The winner’s circle: 3rd runner-up South Africa (Dwayne Geldenhuis), 1st runner-up Egypt (Ahmed Lasheen), Mister Global 2018 USA (Dario Duque), 2nd runner-up Poland (Jakub Kucner), and 4th runner-up Thailand (Stiporn Moollisan)

Just when you thought this year’s Mister Global would run smoothly like in the previous four editions, there was a sudden spanner in the works as the original final competition was suddenly cancelled, and moved the finals the following afternoon.  To a certain extent, the change in venue was beneficial as instead of an impersonal and threadbare (albeit high-tech) venue, they shifted to a venue with a permanently installed Thai structural backdrop, which helps provide a Thai cultural flavor which has been a hallmark of previous editions.  But there were obvious cutbacks in the production, like no interval production numbers (there were dancers previously hired originally but they are gone in the finals that were actually held) and having to hire director Xion Lim as one of the co-hosts–the latter a big blessing in disguise as Xion proved to be a fluid, fluent host.  The abrupt cut from a Top 16 to a Top 5 was another signal of an inevitable scale-down when such last minute changes takes place.

Beside the streamlined and threadbare format, one production aspect I have a beef with one brief moment of the swimsuit segment–at the opening portion there was a moment that the contestants sway and gyrate–considering this is in Southeast Asia, it evokes the vibe of go-go boys and strippers in a cheap honky-tonk bar, which is beneath the caliber of these 38 candidates.  These guys deserve better.

I only got 9 out of 16 correct, but all those who made it were within my radar–with 32 of the 38 contestants of world-class quality, it’s inevitable that differing tastes will result in a different but still highly satisfying mix of finalists.

A couple of guys that were only in my “Striking Distance” list were Albania (David Qenanaj) and Hong Kong (Vincent Lau).  I thought they were not standing out that much, but in hindsight, I underestimated them.  First, Albania’s body was undeniably and enviably buffed, that any reservations about his subdued personality (and that he defied the directive of wearing the white regulation swimsuits and opted to wear his black swimsuit instead) are overlooked.  In the case of Hong Kong, he does have a charm and smile that shone brightly.

Worthy underrated contenders: Albania (David Qenanaj) and Hong Kong (Vincent Lau)

I may have placed these two in my “Bubbling Under” list, but I’m pleased that both Dominican Republic (Frainy Figueroa) and Puerto Rico (Engel Garcia) made the cut.  And knowing that the eventual winner is of Cuban descent, it’s nice to know that the three traditional tight Caribbean caballeros amigos were very successful in this pageant.

Latin Caribbean power: Dominican Republic (Frainy Figueroa) and Puerto RIco (Engel Garcia)

A guy who went very, very far that I also severely underestimated was the eventual first runner-up, Egypt (Ahmed Lasheen).  I should’ve gotten a hint that he got a lot of solo shots and multiple soundbites on the pageant activity videos were a precursor to his status as a favorite.  Yes, his facial features are not necessarily my cup of tea, but he is good-looking and he also possesses that imposing height (I think only Spain is taller than him) and his appreciative and gracious personality (his soundbites tend to be of being grateful for being there and expressing appreciation on the sights and places he has been) won over many people.  He was in my “Bubbling Under” list but I should’ve taken him way more seriously…

A couple of well-regarded pageant veterans who failed to make the cut got the consolation of earning special awards.  Afghanistan (Hamid Noor) earned the Mister Congeniality prize, while Switzerland (Betim Morina) garnered Mister Photogenic.

Mister Congeniality Afghanistan (Hamid Noor) and Mister Photogenic Switzerland (Betim Morina)

Most pageant fans and pundits felt that Denmark (Marcus Rosenberg Jørgensen) should’ve been a shoo-in in the Top 16, but he ended up with only a consolation prize as possessing the Most Charming Smile.  It’s not that evident in his official portrait shots, but we get to see those gleamy white chompers in many other occasions that ti’s a very fitting award.  Now, why was that not enough for him to make the overall Top 16, I wonder?

Most Charming Smile: Denmark (Marcus Rosenberg Jorgensen)

For most fans, the winner of the Lucas Malvacini award would be Mexico (Antonio Merchant).  But I have a feeling the judges and insiders felt other Latinos like the aforementioned DR and PR had more spark than he did.

Lucas Malvacini Award (Popular Choice): Mexico (Antonio Merchant)

But my personal choice as winner of the Lucas Malvacini Award is Spain (Fabian Perez).  I thought he has the perfect looks to be a front-runner–lack of solo shots and a subdued presence should’ve given me a hint that he’s not that highly favored by the insiders and judges.

Lucas Malvacini Award (My Chocie): Spain (Fabian Perez)

The organizers of Mister Global promised a complete statement on what actually transpired that caused the cancellation of the original finals.  Though the contest was saved in the end with the choice of a worthy winner with USA (Dario Duque), that incident took a big hit on this pageant’s reputation–we hope they would take action to prevent the repeat of such an incident again.  There is a side of me that wants to write a full-fledged review or a tribute to all 38 contestants but as you’ll all find out when I post a long belated tribute to a departed celebrity, there is no guarantee I’ll have the energy to do it.  Anyway, congratulations to all the winners, and I hope the pageant organization takes a deep look and take actions to avoid such incident and help preserve its status as one of the premiere male international pageants.



Congratulations to the new Mister Global, USA (Dario Duque)!

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