For this year’s edition of Miss World, they have chosen to go back to London, where it all began. As a result of the choice of London, with its relatively restrictive travel requirements, it attracted its lowest turnout since 2008, with 111 contestants represented. The number is still formidable and lofty and still ensures that this pageant is the biggest pageant around. Due to the cold weather, it’s understandable that the activities were a tad limited like in 2011 and 2014. This year also hypes the presence of controversial journalist/presenter Piers Morgan as head judge and the one who will be conducting the final questions for the five finalists. I’m not crazy about his presence, but it is interesting how everything will all go. Anyway, the Head-to-Head challenge is back, and with Frankie Cena seemingly out of the Miss World team to pursue a different career, the chats are conducted by the reigning Miss World Vanessa Ponce de Leon, with Miss World 2016 Stephanie del Valle on-hand during the first three groups (wonder why Stephanie’s out from Group 4 onwards?). They streamlined the format this year, to make the line of questioning almost uniform–after presenting the introduction video of each contestant, Vanessa will ask one little aspect of their background, then ask them to relay their Beauty with a Purpose project.
ALBANIA – Atalanta Kercyku. This blonde came off a bit verbose and a tad pageant-patty, so as much as she is good looking I’m not bullish on her prospects to make the Top 40. Reinforcing this is the fact she didn’t figure in any challenge event.
ENGLAND – Bhasha Mukherjee. Prior to the events that went underway, it was presumed she could make a play for the Top Five. But despite her background as a medical doctor and her good overall appeal, her only achievement of note is being shortlisted in Sports as part of the Green Team, which at least helped her avoid becoming a candidate for the Holly Carpenter award. It’s still conceivable if she made a good interview she can still advance to the Top 40.
GUYANA – Joylyn Anita Conway. She is the winner of this group, and deservingly so, as she’s very engaging and articulate as she relayed her background as a chemist and her advocacy to encourage girls to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. She also won in the second round so her Top 40 slot is secured. Can she make a play for the Top 12? It’s also conceivable but there are a couple of Caribbean*1 contenders she would need to outperform to earn that slot.
*1 Though this country lies squarely within the continent of the Americas, it’s usually lumped with the Caribbean group because of cultural ties.
HONDURAS – Ana Grisell Romero. Her features have an angular patrician bent. Her lack of facility in English. Her highlight is being shortlisted in the Sports challenge under the Blue team.
KOREA – Lim Ji-yeon. She actually made a great impression in the Head-to-Head challenge with her great facility with English. Unfortunately she didn’t figure in an fast-track challenge, so she has the potential to be a Holly Carpenter candidate, though there is a possibility she could win over the judges in interview and make the cut–a similar scenario happened two years ago with Kim Ha-Eun, who not only made all the way to the Top 10 but became the Continental Queen for Asia.
PERU – Angella Belén Escudero. She’s cute, but her high-pitched speaking voice might not win over the judges alongside her lack of facility of English. Prospects for making the Top 40 is very slim.
COOK ISLANDS – Tajiya Eikura Sahay. She’s actually very solid, but her predecessors were splashier than her. Her highlights are being shortlisted in the “homely” challenge events of Sports and Talent.
GUATEMALA – Dulce Joëlle Ramos. She didn’t have an introduction video prepared, and she didn’t figure in any challenge event so prospects for advancing to the Top 40 are close to nil.
IRELAND – Chelsea Farrell. She ended up a surprising winner for this group, but she made a good impression with her background as a midwife. She was defeated in the second round by TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, so she need to make an impression in the judges’ interview to make the Top 40–it’s highly possible she can pull this off.
ITALY – Adele De Filippo. She made the shortlist in Top Model, but though she made a good impression, this is most likely the highlight of her stint here.
MYANMAR – Than Htet San. Some pageant fans like how she conducted herself in the Head-to-Head challenge, but I’m not sure if that would be enough for her to win over the judges to make the Top 40. Not helping matters is her not figuring in any challenge event.
RUSSIA – Alina Sanko. She polished up after her win in her national pageant and she made a great impression in this Head-to-Head video. Most expected she would win for this group but I’m still bullish on her prospects in making the Top 40, especially since she made the shortlist in Top Model and reportedly Beauty with a Purpose (BWAP), even if she didn’t make the Top 10 in either.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – Rikkiya Brathwaite. She delivered a big breakthrough for this country, which normally would be deemed a cellar-dweller, as she secured her slot in the Top 40 by winning Sports. But not only that, she also placed second in Talent as she has a major background in performing arts with a specialty in singing. She also made a bright impression in the Head-to-Head challenge with her lively and engaging personality. We should congratulate her for bringing forth her country’s big breakthrough in international pageantry.
ICELAND – Kolfinna Mist Austfjörd. She’s a pretty, articulate, thoughtful and reflective lass who is a singer-songwriter, skills that help her gain a shortlist in Talent.
LAOS – Nelamith Xaypannha. It’s interesting that her favorite hobby is snooker (or billiards). She made a good impression, but not quite enough to make a major play for a Top 40 slot.
NICARAGUA – María Teresa Cortéz. She made a bright, spirited impression in the Head-to-Head challenge, that I would root for her to make a good impression with the judges to gain a Top 40 slot. Anyway, she also had a shortlist in Sports as part of the Blue team as a moment she can cherish.
SOUTH SUDAN – Mariah Nyayeina Maget. She tugged hearts in the Head-to-Head Challenge as she relayed how she’s practically orphaned (her mother died when she was six and her father was a soldier often away at war). She exudes a charisma that’s helped her get shortlisted in Top Model. Let’s see if the she tugs the judges’ hearts to also secure a Top 40 slot.
VENEZUELA – Isabella Rodríguez. She may not be conventionally pretty but she is so far playing by the Ivian Sarcos playbook and making a smashing impression as like Ivian, she has a rise-from-the-slums narrative, having been born (and still living) in Petare, reportedly the largest slum area in her country. Her background also serve as her advocacy. She already secured a slot in the Top 40 by not only winning this group but also winning the second round against CHINA, P R. Prospects of her making the Final Five are strong as she made Top 10 in BWAP and also was shortlisted in Top Model. Could she become her country’s sixth Miss World? Though she qualified as a contestant of color, there are at least two other colored candidates who seem to have an inside track to win that crown.
COMING UP: GROUPS 4 TO 6