PARAGUAY – Jose Lucas Barros Lima. He’s good looking and beefy, but he hasn’t quite garnered much buzz. I consider him a worthwhile contender.
PHILIPPINES – Miguel Guia. Unlike his previous two predecessors, he has a strong command of English. He also possesses a handsome, swarthy appeal, and looks great in fashionable clothes. However many are criticizing about the lack of definition of his physique–he could be potentially this year’s equivalent of Siera Bearchell, demonstrating that physique definition is not a prerequisite for fitness. But the difference is, Siera possesses eloquence that helped her turn a “disadvantage” into an “advantage”, and as well-spoken as Miguel is, I doubt he possesses Siera’s eloquence. At this point his best prospects for making the final cut is to win the popular vote.
POLAND – Jan Dratwicki. He seems a stronger communicator than Rafal Jonkisz, and he has that boyish European handsome appeal plus a buffed bod (and a Dino Nicolina runner-up from his swimsuit pics). It seems he could be the top Eastern European of this batch.
PUERTO RICO – Francisco Vergara. He pales compared to his predecessor, Mister World 2016 1st runner-up Fernando Alvarez, but his swarthy appeal and rippled physique cannot be underestimated. He looks bound for an inside track for the finals.
RUSSIA – Emil Faizulin. At 28 years old, he’s one of the more “mature” contestants in this group, and he also registers as such. He does have a handsomeness, though, unlike that notorious 2012 representative from Australia (*shudder*).
SINGAPORE – Sebastian Foo. I think it’s a given that any Singaporean contestant in any male international pageant is guaranteed to have a supremely buffed physique like this guy. The only problem is the charisma factor is touch-and-go–sometimes the guy has it, like, say, Manhunt International 2012 4th runner-up Jason Chee, or like this guy, doesn’t.
SPAIN – Daniel Torres. He’s a replacement for another Daniel, surnamed Rodriguez, who made headlines for being an out homosexual. It’s such a missed opportunity for this pageant to make a diversity statement (a la Denmark’s now legendary Sy Lee at Manhunt 2016 though it looks like Daniel Rodriguez is not flamboyantly effete like Sy is) as the original winner chose to opt out of competing here. Some might be dismissive of this guy’s prospects of winning as a result, but looking at all the pictures, he oozes abundant charisma and sex appeal in all of them, and he exudes a friendly outgoing personality. Arguably, he also has the best physique out of everyone, too–is that an eight-pack? His 6’1″ stature could also allow him to hold his own against the Ultimate Beefcake Behemoth that is Mister Lebanon. Many pundits are hyping Italy as the main obstacle of his roommate’s path to the title, but I think this guy is the bigger threat to Paul Iskandar’s presumptive victory. If Alan Sim and company find Lebanon too intimidating, he could be a highly appealing choice as a winner.
P.S. From his appearance at the Haeyu launch, it looks like he shaved off his facial hair–he might be strategizing that this is the way he can stand out against a band of scruffy men. It unlocks a different kind of handsomeness and he looks smashing, though I marginally prefer his original look. He also looks like the sort whose five-o-clock shadow comes in at noon, so it’s conceivable we’ll see him with facial hair again during the finals. Let’s see if his strategy pays off.
SRI LANKA – Daniel Rene DeZilva Wijawardena. By default he’s the darkest-complexioned candidate in this year’s pageant–and he’s lighter skinned than most of his compatriots who saw action in this pageant. He’s also a high quality contender with a doe-eyed handsomeness and strong communication skills. It is conceivable he can overtake India and be the Southern-Asian-most-likely to make the final cut here.
THAILAND – Kittikun Tansuhat. Many pageant fans and pundits groused at his Mister Photogenic award at the preliminary competition, complaining he lacked the charisma to be worthy of that award. Compared to the formidable East Asian contingent, plus India and Sri Lanka, and his peers from Southeast Asia, he doesn’t quite stand out especially if he combed his hair down to a bowl cut. He does look better when he combed his hair up, though. But his chances of making the cut would probably be because of host country factor–but then again, back in 2011, this country didn’t advance and it was held there.
U S A – Anthony Perez. He’s arguably the best looking representative from this powerful nation in recent years. That being said, he is overshadowed by sterling contenders out there and reports of him being ill during the preliminary interviews does not bode well for his prospects.
VENEZUELA – Walfred Crespo. He’s the classic swarthy Latino, and he oozes a lot of appeal that is worthy of his country’s banner. He looks like he has an inside track to the finals but it’s pretty crowded competing for a few slots.
VIETNAM – Nguyen Tien Dat. Arguably he’s the strongest bet amongst the Southeast Asian contingent this year. He has that cuteness and boyish appeal that can go far in this competition. It’s not common that this country takes the lead over the pageant-power-triumvirate of Indonesia, Thailand, and Philippines.
With all 35 contestants accounted for, allow me to trot out my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: ITALY, LEBANON, SPAIN
SHOO-INs: HONG KONG, JAPAN, POLAND
LIKELIEST: AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, CZECH REPUBLIC, GUAM, INDIA, KOREA, LATVIA, MEXICO, NETHERLANDS, PUERTO RICO, SRI LANKA, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
TRADITIONAL FACTOR: INDONESIA, THAILAND
POPULAR VOTE FACTOR: PHILIPPINES
EXCELLENT: BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, CHINA, EL SALVADOR, PARAGUAY
VERY STRONG: CANADA, RUSSIA, SINGAPORE, U S A
STRONG: CAMBODIA, MALAYSIA, NEPAL, MYANMAR
It looks like this pageant will follow Miss Universe’s lead and do a 9-6-3 format. I’m not sure if the initial cut would still be a Top 15/16 (with popular vote) or will they also imitate a Top 12. I’ll presume a Top 16 so here is my “fearful” forecast:
FINAL THREE: HONG KONG, LEBANON, SPAIN
TOP SIX: ITALY, JAPAN, POLAND
TOP NINE: KOREA, NETHERLANDS, VIETNAM
TOP 15: AUSTRALIA, GUAM, INDIA, LATVIA, PUERTO RICO, SRI LANKA
POPULAR VOTE: PHILIPPINES
BUBBLING UNDER: BRAZIL, CZECH REPUBLIC, MEXICO, VENEZUELA
STRIKING DISTANCE: BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, CHINA, EL SALVADOR, INDONESIA, PARAGUAY, THAILAND
It’s interesting that this year, the region making the biggest splash is the Mediterranean, with three of the hottest hunks looking the most winnable. It is also interesting to see if there is room for traditional Southeast Asian powerhouses to make inroads, especially with the onslaught of East Asians like Hong Kong and Japan. Can Hong Kong use his charm to break down the powerhosue Mediterranean trio? Let’s see how it all unfolds tonight.