I’ve noticed that in a “less competitive” year for this pageant like this year, this would be the time when some unexpected headscratching choices would make the cut. Yes, my prediction score of seven out of 16 is better than my dismal six out of 15 record back in 2011, but it’s still doesn’t reflect well on me, even if I got three of the Top Five right. Sure I can find solace that three in my “Bubbling Under” list and three in my “Striking Distance” list made he cut, and that can shore my forecast stats a bit, but I found it shocking that some that I rated in the bottom of my list made the cut.
I found the inclusion of Chinese Taipei (Shen Ying-Bin) and Dominican Republic (Mike Jacobi) headscratching. Okay, perhaps Chinese Taipei can be deemed as cute and his beefy frame is toned enough even if sometimes he’s like this pageant’s equivalent of Siera Bearchell. Dominican Republic’s boyish long-haired Latino look was never going to be my thing, but it seems to have enough adherents for him to make the cut.
Malaysia (Gan Kai Han) was also outside of my radar, but I did concede he could pull off an Evan Siau and parlay his rippled beefy physique (and a charming smile) into a Top 16 finish.
I loved the way Nepal (Samim Khan) looked, but I’m surprised buzz is muted for him. Was he a bit too subdued for Thai tastes. Or did his tacky costume did him in?
I was expecting Puerto Rico (José Rafael Valdéz) to go far as he stands out by being the only black guy in this batch, and he has polish and charisma. But perhaps the Asian resistance to dark complexions have set in, and the most they can tolerate is a dark brown Asian from the Indian subcontinent.
Two Latinos have the handsomeness that many thought would make them shoo-ins, but somehow they fell short. I think in the case for Costa Rica (Richard Coronado), his kinda awkward poses did him in, while for Fernando de Noronha (Diego Michel Jácome Batista), his frame is deemed too bulky for comfort, and hence these handsome guys turned from handsome pre-arrival favorites to runners-up for the Lucas Malvacini Award.
But the winner of the Lucas Malvacini Award is Greece (Spyros Spinoulas). He seems to have the classic features of the 1990s Manhunt winners, but it seems the organization is now working to become more current, and in effect, deemed his look as dated. Too bad this happened…
Lebanon (Gaetan Osman) did not win as I have expected, but his 2nd runner-up finish is still the best showing this country had in this pageant and I bet pretty soon this male pageant powerhouse will finally roar in this pageant. Thailand (Kongnat Choeisuwan) was always expected to rank high, and 1st runner-up is worthy. Now, I know there are a lot of people who love Vietnam (Trương Ngọc Tình), but I never get his appeal at all–not even with his 2nd place stint at last year’s Mister Universal Ambassador (I only rated him as a bubbling under choice then). Well, I guess I should never expect my taste to always be in sync with the rest, so I’ll respect this result, even if I have different notions of who is worthy of belonging there. Congratulations to all the winners!
All images courtesy of Gentle People Thailand unless otherwise indicated.