At least there was no drama with the staging of the finals of Mister Global unlike last year–it went on as scheduled at the ballroom of Novotel Sukhumvit 20 in Bangkok, Thailand. But a trace of that chaos linger in the manner in which this finals was staged. It was a very lean-and-mean production like last year. The stage was also very cramped and small, making me recall the threadbare production of last year’s Manhunt International–devoid of any hint of Thai culture unlike in previous editions. At least last year’s edition was held in a venue that was full of Thai backdrops, even if that venue was a backup because of the snafus with the organizing party (from what I saw, the original venue last year would’ve made for a modern but cold, impersonal staging also). Still, better that there was a final being staged than the chaos that transpired last year, right?
We have to credit host PK Piyawat Kampetch for his enthusiasm and energy, but I wish we get a bit more finesse in his spiels as he comes off like a carnival barker. Aggravating matters was the echo effects emanating from his microphone that make things sound “cheap”–don’t know if that’s from the microphone itself or the livestream feed… I’m all for hiring local talent but I felt pitch-hitting Filipino host Xion Lim did a better job last year.
I’m mighty pleased that I got 13 out of the Top 16 correct though this does not avoid the fact there was a shocking outcome. I’ll get this out of the way and note that the clear winner of the Lucas Malvacini award for this pageant this year goes to SOUTH AFRICA (Marcus Max Karsten). I was expecting him to be a front-runner, or even a shoo-in at the very least so it’s a shocker he was shut-out. I can theorize two things–one, post-pageant I reviewed some videos and noticed moments where he doesn’t seem to be as motivated to compete; two, his South African accent sometimes sounds too thick to the point it sometimes get incomprehensible–especially hard for the predominantly Thai panel to pick up and perhaps even the reigning Mister Global, Dario Duque, may have had issues with understanding him, as he also speaks English as a second language (his primary language is Spanish).
Four non-finalists at least have the consolation of garnering special awards, three of them Asian. MYANMAR (Thiha Kyaw) won Best National Costume, HONG KONG (Chace Cheng) won Mister Photogenic, and LAOS (Kiengkai Xouansouandao) won Most Charming Smile.
The sole non-Asian non-finalist to garner a special award was PANAMA (Kenny Guerra) and it’s a very apt one–Best in Swimsuit. His physique is the stuff of envy and indeed highly worthy of this award.
Now, about the Top 16. This pageant decided to borrow a bit from Miss Universe 2017 and employ a continental format to announce the Top 16: Four allocated for each of three regions: Americas, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania, then add four wildcards including the winner of the Popular Vote. First, the biggest shocker for me was the inclusion of PORTUGAL (Angelo Amaro). But I learned from accounts from those covering the pageant about his very likable personality and how much better he looks in person–and I think with his hair combed the right way like in the finals, I start to appreciate his handsomeness, so he’s not as much of a headscratcher as I would’ve thought.
I only placed CUBA (
Isko Moreno, er, Rubert Arias) in my “Striking Distance” list because I thought the Thais may find his thick eyebrows a bit too strong, but I’m glad they appreciated him enough to let him make the cut. I do welcome his inclusion.
Winning the Popular Vote special award, which gave him an automatic ticket to the Top 16, was VIETNAM (Nguyễn Hùng Cường). Would he have made the cut if he didn’t win the popular online vote? There are a whole host of worthy choices out there so it’s not so clear-cut, even if I actually included him in my “Fearful” Forecast.
Now, let’s enjoy the Top 16 finalists who were truly worthy of belonging there: MEXICO (Manuel Duarte), PHILIPPINES (Ricky Gumera), POLAND (Michal Jan Grudzień), and THAILAND (Jeerawat Vetsakol).
I pegged NORTH CYPRUS (Süleyman Mullahasan) in my Top Five, but it seems those better in the know have noted his buzz faded later in the game that although he remained a strong performer, it was not enough to figure in the Final Five. Nevertheless, there is nothing disappointing about his showing.
I know many other pageant fans and pundits pegged INDONESIA (Herman Cahyono) in their Final Five, but I guess although I understand their buzz based on his energetic vibe, I think missing out of the Final Five is just.
Garnering a Best Model special award is CHILE (Nelson Cáceres). Wonder if this means he probably only miss the Final Five by very little…
I think it’s just a matter of personal taste that the judges couldn’t make enough room for the Final Five for BRAZIL (Gil Raupp). I think it’s obvious he’s the sexiest guy in this batch, and I think he’s the winner of the Dino Nicolina Award based from the swimsuit and underwear shoot photos I noticed.
Now it’s time to discuss the Final Five. They were subjected to a final Q&A and were all asked the same question: “As a gentleman of the world, how would you inspire others to become responsible, socially?” No headsets were on-hand so PK noted that yes the other guys can copy the other finalists’ answers at their own risk. Listening to their answers, there was a side of me that thought that there might have been a mistake and they announced the results in reverse. But then again, perhaps because of the relatively weak translation skills of the Spanish and Korean interpreters, maybe they just factored in overall charisma. Again, it’s a matter of taste. Even if the answers are not the same caliber delivered at Mister World, we have to also hand it to all five finalists that they all gave good answers to the question asked.
4TH RUNNER-UP: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC –
Latino Jason Momoa, er, Braulio Encarnacion. He has the buffness and sex appeal that made him a standout from the get-go, and he proved to be also smart, so his Final Five finish is well-earned and I’m glad I called it correctly. I was actually impressed with his answer to the final question, as he talked about being a good example by your actions and to have the mind of a mature adult while keeping the spirit of a child. Based from that answer alone I would’ve pegged him as 1st runner-up at the very least, but perhaps the predominantly Thai judges may not have gotten his message, especially since the translation was not that good.
3RD RUNNER-UP: SWITZERLAND – Kenan Murseli. I have to say I underestimated his charisma also as I do acknowledge his handsomeness but failed to see that he has sparkle and charm, even if not in the level of, say, Mister International 2015 Pedro Mendes. It’s quite interesting that his national costume is baically a boxer’s robe with the Swiss flag at the back, and for the finals, he embellished this by scrawling the words “SWISS MADE” on his bare chest. Anyway, for his answer to the final question, he tugged the heartstrings: “As my father taught me when I was a child [pronounced ‘chilled’], to whatever you can to help people who are in need. He told me, I remember, an advice, do good and good will happens [sic] to you. That’s how I try to be everyday. He told me so many things and I love him, he’s my example, so… he explained to me to be everytime happy [sic], to respect everybody, whoever he is, because everybody can be good–even if a day somebody make something bad to you, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, just give him a chance to you that everybody’s good.” A side of me feels he might have been robbed of the title based on his answer, but I guess the judges take overall impression into account and they were more impressed with the others ranked above him even if they didn’t deliver as strong an answer as what he gave.
2ND RUNNER-UP: SPAIN – Jose Luis Navarro. This tall, handsome, boyish hunk has that “spark” and thus as I predicted he ended up in the Final Five. He kept it direct and simple in his answer to the final question–it’s about empathizing with other people (though it’s translated as “incentivize”), educating them to have the hearts to help others, and understand the value of humanity.
1ST RUNNER-UP: TUNISIA – Houssem Saidi. I only pegged him in my “Striking Distance” list as I mistook his fierce face in modeling photos as a lack of spark. It actually turns out if you delve deeper and see videos, he has a lot of charm and outgoing personality that I finally got the hype–he could be the closest male equivalent to Raquel Pelisier, the Miss Universe 2016 1st runner-up from Haiti, particularly with the fact he’s multi-lingual and very sympatico. His answer to the final question was a tad generic–basically he mentioned about taking care of himself and upholding the values his mother instilled in him. It’s one of the weaker answers in the Top Five in my reckoning and after watching some other interview videos of him, he has the capability of answering better. But I don’t object his high finish as I sensed he generated a lot of goodwill during his stay that they reward him with this finish.
MISTER GLOBAL 2019: KOREA – Kim Jongwoo. I do get his charisma, but I have to admit I underestimated how appealing he was to other people, who are all agog over him. I think his deep, almost stentorian baritone voice, is part of that appeal, alongside handsomeness and a superbly buffed physique. For his answer to the final question, it also feels as generic as Tunisia’s talking about a gentleman being a good example, and by being educated and knowledge, he himself can be a good role model. I don’t know if there is something lost in translation by the Korean interpreter, but I suppose the judges decided to not put that much weight on the final answer and go by his overall appeal and hence he earned the victory.
We all know it’s a struggle mounting a male pageant–remember even the very successful Mister World contest had its hiccups, too–but it seems under Merian Axelgaard‘s organization, this pageant is going towards the right direction. Let’s see if they can continue to grow from this point forward. Congratulations to all the winners!