This year, it’s easy to track who are members of which team, as with an exception in the Extreme Sports challenge, the team members are organized based on strict alphabetical order. So, this year’s Red Team consists of contestants from ANGOLA to CURACAO. Let’s get to know them, shall we?
ANGOLA – Pascoal Jorge André. The African contingent is fierce this year–and even if this guy was overshadowed most of the time by other outgoing contenders, he has this manly charisma that fits the desirable mold. He made the Top 25 shortlist in Top Model.
ARGENTINA – Leonardo Díaz. I found his asymmetrical haircut a bit off-putting at first, but when I look at him more, I now get why some key pageant websites hype in as a top contender. His unconventionally hip style helped him make the cut in the Top Model challenge, and he proved he has the strength to pass muster in Extreme Sports, and was one of the designated swimmers in the Sports challenge.
As you would read further throughout this homestretch review, this guy was not the original designated rep for his country–he was first runner-up to Thomas Lietti, who opted to concentrate on his modeling career instead of competing. Looking at the original winner, I think he doesn’t look as interesting as this guy so this is a welcome swap.
ARMENIA – Grigor Vardanyan. It’s nice to see this country debut in this pageant, but so far he has not made much of an impact. His only highlight is figuring as a reserve in the Sports challenge.
AUSTRALIA – Jonathan Berry. He replaced the original rep, the beefy blond Eden Dally, who could easily pass as a relative of RUSSIA, but for most pageant fans and pundits, this guy is the worthier choice. He has an advocacy helping teenage Aborigines at risk for suicide, as it turns out he is of that heritage. Based on his looks, I wouldn’t peg him as Aboriginal, as he looks more European to me. In fact, at first glance, he reminded me of this year’s Eurovision champion from the Netherlands, Duncan Laurence. I fantasize seeing him do his winning song, “Arcade“, but this guy noted he cannot sing at all and he’s more an aspiring standup comic. He’s a more-than-worthwhile contender, but his highlight thus far was being a designated swimmer in the Sports challenge.
AUSTRIA – Alberto Nodale. His half-Filipino heritage helped him garner major buzz and he delivers as he proved to be a significant player in Sports, Extreme Sports, and Top Model. He also reportedly placed second in Multimedia. His prospects for making the Top 12 looks certain.
BANGLADESH – Mahadi Hasan Fahim. His national pageant was the last one held to select its representative, and he’s a worthy choice. It’s just that he didn’t quite garner much inroads thus far, so he’s more of a worthwhile contender in a sea of worthwhile contenders. His only highlight was figuring in the reserve for the Sports challenge.
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Darko Milović. He’s the youngest representative at 17 years old. His good looks helped him garner a shortlist in Top Model, but otherwise he seems raw and not the outgoing type that this pageant tends to prefer.
BRAZIL – Carlos Franco. With his Classic Latin handsome features and broad outgoing personality, many pageant fans and pundits have pegged him as the favorite to win. But interestingly the challenge event he made a splash in was in Top Model. Based from history his sort of personality is the sort this pageant favors, so prospects are still strong for this guy to make the Top 12.
BULGARIA – Oliver Staykov. Here’s a guy who hasn’t reached his potential. His long-haired Jesus look could’ve been appealing but he doesn’t quite have the charisma to pull it off, so he’s one of the lesser lights in this otherwise stellar bunch.
CAMBODIA – Samkhan Ou. Arguably he’s the best representative this fledgling country fielded in any male pageant thus far. He’s a cutie but I feel his Top Model shortlist was a tad overrated.
CAMEROON – Makala Nganda. He is a standout in the Sports and Extreme Sports challenge events, placing a tie for second place in the former. He is another member of the fierce African contingent.
CANADA – Alessandro Coward. He has a great human interest story as he is diagnosed with autism. He proved to be an inspirational story as he seems very sociable enough and he has the good looks to figure in Top Model and the athleticism to make the shortlists in both Sports and Extreme Sports. He looks poised to figure in the Top 12.
CHILE – Felipe Rojas. He has a mild resemblance to singer Shawn Mendes, and has the looks and athleticism to figure in Sports, Extreme Sports, and Top Model. To help him also make serious inroads into making the Top 12 is the fact that he is a dentist.
CHINA P R – Zhang Zhiyu. He’s a late arrival to the proceedings and to be blunt he looks too plain and skinny. Yet, the powers that be dig him enough to shortlist him in Top Model–I would’ve rather exchange his spot to, say, PUERTO RICO?
COLOMBIA – Daniel Castrillon. I don’t consider his facial features a standout but he’s undeniably handsome. He proved to be a standout in the Sports challenge as he was in a tie for second with CAMEROON, and he made the shortlists in both Extreme Sports and Top Model. he could be a sleeper choice for the Top 12.
COSTA RICA – Daniel Esquivel. On his own, he possesses a swarthy appeal. But with the bevy of stunners out there, he is literally dwarfed–his declared height was 5’11” but on most photos he looks no taller than 5’8″.
CURACAO – Naim Jassir Pieter. He didn’t quite make any impact at all, and is unfortunately overlooked. He seems a solid contender, though.
COMING UP: THE GREEN TEAM
Official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Alain Lababit; Press presentation photos courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines; Barong and summer wear photos courtesy of Miss World Organization; and Top Model Bench underwear photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology