AUSTRALIA – Riley Channells. This floppy haired dude is for me a major improvement from his predecessor, who finished 1st runner-up in the last edition. Even with that it is unlikely he’ll be able to duplicate that finish as there are so many outstanding contenders in this edition, though he seems to have an inside track for the Top 16.
BELGIUM – Franca Enid. He’s a boyish cutie who garnered quite a bit of special awards and sponsors’ prizes. To be honest, I find him a tad overrated in that respect, even if he’s undeniably cute. Based on those prizes, it seems he’s a near shoo-in for the Top 16.
BRAZIL – Mateus Giora. Hard to believe this country has never won this pageant yet, and its best showing was 2nd runner-up back in 2010. This classically gorgeous specimen looks poised to deliver his country’s best finish in this pageant–the question now is, will he win it all? There is one guy who is perceived to be the big favorite as on top of also possessing a similarly classically gorgeous look, he seems to have an edge in communication skills (especially since this guy’s English is not that good).
BULGARIA – Asen Mitev. His pre-arrival photo made me think of that notorious MTV reality TV show Jersey Shore but most of pics as he set foot on these shores reveal he can project finesse, and he has the handsomeness and buffness to make the Top 16.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Jan Potočný. He also has an inside track to the Top 16, and could even be a possible usurper over the perceived favorites and even make a play for the Top Five.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Argenis Grullon. Though his complexion could be more considered brown or mocha, in US parlance he could probably be considered black, so he is one of four black guys in this year’s competition. I like his swarthy appeal, but I think Rosko Dickerson and company don’t really dig his type of look.
FERNANDO DE NORONHA – Cuca Souza. This Brazilian (as this “region” is actually a Brazilian island attraction) seems to be competing at a high level, and he could be the black-man-most-likely in this year’s pageant. But with so many compelling choices out there, his slot in the Top 16 is not that assured.
GREECE – Nikos Antonopoulos. From the Press Presentation onwards, he’s been dubbed the “Greek God” and even “Superman”. Both nicknames are apt as he has the classically handsome features and chiseled physique of a Greek God, and when I first saw him, the first thing that came to my mind was Tyler Hoechlin, the guy who plays the Arrow-verse version of Superman in various CW TV series (and will be having his own TV series called Superman and Lois premiering this October). Prior to his Manila arrival, most of his photos show him sporting a heavy beard, and he also looks great with that look, just like Tyler…
…but unlike Tyler, I didn’t quite recognize him in his bearded look. And yes, he also received comparisons to the DCEU version of Superman (and now star of Netfix’s The Witcher), Henry Cavill. Like Henry, you can make the mistake of thinking bearded Henry is a different person from clean-shaven Henry.
GUAM – Jordan Pauluhn. He is not your typical Guamanian as he’s Caucasian (I presume perhaps German?). He has a handsome face and he does work the long hair well, but in a highly competitive year like this, I don’t think he is making as much of a splash as he normally would have in a less competitive edition.
INDIA – Mavur Gangwani. He is making a great impression and garnered some sponsors’ prizes and special awards so he looks to have an inside track to the Top 16.
INDONESIA – Elardy Tan. I don’t find him classically handsome but I think he’s highly appealing and he does have strong qualities worthy of making it into the Top 16.
JAPAN – Ryuta Kishigami. Yes, many pageant fans and pundits may consider his featues to be plain, but somehow he exudes a certain charisma that can be catnip for those who could appreciate very Asian features like his.
COMING UP: KOREA to POLAND
Press Presentation images courtesy of Dion Besa for Rappler.