RUSSIA – Igor Buyantuev. It’s easy to forget that most of Russia’s land area falls in Asia, and this guy’s Asian features reminds us of that. And looking at his costume, it would’ve been easy for a casual observer to confuse him as representing CHINA.
SINGAPORE – Famy Ashary. As usual, this country fielded a representative with an unquestionably buffed bod. But he has the plainest, most ordinary face of this batch.
SLOVENIA – Matiaz Mavri-Boncelj. He is one of the classically handsome Europeans in this batch and he looks like he has an inside track to make the Top 16. Still, although his frame has definition, there are some angles where it doesn’t register as buffed as other contenders out there and that could hinder him in the end.
SOUTH AFRICA – Lebogang Rameetse. Here is another strong black contender in this year’s batch. I could find no fault in his performance, and so the question is if there would be room for him to join NICARAGUA in the Top 16.
SPAIN – Jesus Collado. He’s handsomely scruffy, yet polished. He exudes the vibe of the half-Filipino 2015 rep, Daniel Barreres, albeit Daniel for me exuded a lot more charisma than this guy. He seems to have an inside track to the Top 16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he would finish in the same spot as Daniel three years ago.
SRI LANKA – Amandha Amarasekara. His Mister Suprnational counterpart, Tymeron Carvalho, declared that he is an LGBTQ activist and even in homophobic Poland he somehow managed to make a breakthrough and finished in 8th place. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy also declares he’s an activist as Tymeron, but the difference is while Tymeron still moves in a masculine manner, this guy’s mannerisms are clearly effete. For that I’ll give him the Sy Lee diversity award. Now in this pageant, would he be able to get away with it and make the final cut? Or would that factor be taken against him and he would miss it? He ticks all the boxes otherwise, as he’s handsome with a buffed bod.
SWEDEN – Kevin Graf. Well, unlike some recent predecessors he’s rather white and pasty so he is definitely out of contention for a Top 16 slot. His redeeming factor is that some people may find his face utterly cute.
SWITZERLAND – Maikel Ferreira. He’s generally solid, but his charisma is a tad muted that he can only be considered a worthwhile contender.
TAIWAN – Kevin Chang. Unlike his mainland counterpart, he has buffness and polish, and even a little more charisma that he is making a great impression. It might even be possible that he can make the cut.
THAILAND – Nick Nolte. He should not be confused with the famous Hollywood actor. He got his name as his father is German. There were some who deemed him a possible front-runner prior to his arrival but then when you size him up with the rest, he’s one of the shortest in the batch–only NEPAL is shorter than him. Still, that wouldn’t be a hindrance as there is typically room for the “little-cutie-that-could”, and he could easily fit that bill. But then it was revealed that like HONG KONG, he has a very provocative modeling layout published–this time he actually revealed more flesh than what HONG KONG did. If I’m not mistaken as I’m not familiar with Thai laws, it seems his layout is not considered “obscene” or “pornographic” there, albeit in many other countries, it could be viewed as such. So one might wonder, would this be taken against him? Much remains to be seen.
U S A – Nicolas Santos. If you hear him open his mouth, you would observe he speaks with an accent, as if English is not really his first language. His accent is the sort that would make some white supremacist scream at him for (imitating a redneck accent) “not speaking American”. But you must remember–this country does not have an official language, even if it is assumed to be English, so he has the right to speak English in whatever accent he is accustomed to. I find him handsome and thought he could be a front-running contender, but then I realize his frame is a bit on the thick side and albeit his physique has more definition than LEBANON and NETHERLANDS, he is in the same boat as those two and would need to play the Siera Bearchell card to pull off making the Top 16.
VENEZUELA – Francesco Piscitelli. Now, he’s the quintessential Classic Latino and as the days wore on buzz has been rising that he’s the one most likely to win this competition. Added bonus is that he is one of the Dino Nicolina award contenders with his national costume.
VIETNAM – Trịnh Bảo. There is something about hsi features that seems Eurasian. Anyway, he exudes so much charisma that he can be considered the Top Asian in this batch. It is even conceivable that he can win it all and be the second Vietnamese after Ngo Tien Doan over 10 years ago. Let’s see how well he plays his cards during finals night.
With all 39 contestants accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: AUSTRALIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
SHOO-INS: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO,
LIKELIEST: BRAZIL, HAITI, HONG KONG, INDONESIA, MEXICO, PANAMA, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND,
SIERA BEARCHELL FACTOR: LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, U S A
EXCELLENT: BELGIUM, GUAM, SWITZERLAND
VERY STRONG: CHINA, RUSSIA
STRONG: BOLIVIA, MALAYSIA, NEPAL, SINGAPORE, SWEDEN
Now, here is my “Fearful” Forecast:
TOP THREE: AUSTRALIA, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
TOP FIVE: CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU
TOP 10: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO
TOP 16: BRAZIL, INDONESIA, JAPAN, KOREA, PHILIPPINES, SPAIN
BUBBLING UNDER: HAITI, HONG KONG, MEXICO, PANAMA, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND
STRIKING DISTANCE: BELGIUM, GUAM, LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, SWITZERLAND, U S A.
I think it seems to be a battle between the Surfer Dude (AUSTRALIA) and the Quintessential Classic Latino (VENEZUELA), but don’t discount the likes of VIETNAM, CZECH REPUBLIC and PERU to make a play for the title, and INDIA and NICARAGUA maybe pulling off an upset. It’s not as easy to call this year, so I’m waiting with bated breath to see how this all unfolds.
All national costume preliminary competition photos courtesy of Aski for Events2Images; All official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Erik Esparat; All official formal wear photos courtesy of Alieks Fusilero; and all other photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.