GROUP 1 – Bahamas, Malaysia, Nepal, Peru, Portugal, United States
PERU – Paula Montes. Coming first in a field of almost a hundred is bound to have its drawbacks, but this 25-year-old did exude sincerity and warmth in her answers. So far, she’s only made a splash in the Sports Fast Track, but had this been a minor pageant, she’d be easily in overall contention. It’s endearing how her approachable aura contrasts with her sharp, piercing eyes.
NEPAL – Namrata Shrestha. After losing in her local pageant in 2016, this kindergarten teacher took time off to focus on her career. Good thing her second try was worth the risk, as she not only won in this group, she’s also now guaranteed a Top 30 slot as one of the overall Head-to-Head Challenge winners.
UNITED STATES – Shree Saini. There’s more to her than being the first Indian immigrant to represent the Stars and Stripes in this pageant. Aside from surviving a car crash that burned half her face, she’s also required to undergo eight heart surgeries throughout her lifetime. And it’s hard to believe she went through all that, given her buoyant spirit and relentless optimism. She may not be your run-of-the-mill pageant contender, but she’s bound to amass sentimental votes from the judges. Her Beauty with a Purpose citation also likely seals the deal.
MALAYSIA – Lavanya Sivaji. She could very well be the kindred follow-up to her Miss Earth counterpart Nisha Thayananthan, who’s also a medical doctor of Indian descent. Just like Nisha, this 25-year-old moved with her frontliner stories and can just as easily compel the powers-that-be with her stirring rhetoric. It should relatively be a breeze, as this country tends to have better traction in this pageant, but her lack of Fast Track placements so far is concerning.
PORTUGAL – Lidy Alves. For someone with such a morbid profession, this funeral home director exudes a radiant aura. She’s more solid and eloquent than most Portuguese contestants we’ve seen recently, but she hasn’t made a mark here thus far.
BAHAMAS – Sienna Evans. As it is, it’s already a watershed year for this archipelago. Aside from Chantel O’Brian scoring the first Bahamian Miss Universe placement earlier this week, this neuroscience graduate is also expected to excel here. On top of her effervescent charm, she also runs her own laboratories and launched an AI-driven platform which makes mental health services readily available. Such credentials tend to be catnip for the Miss World powers-that-be. And with her Top Model placement, she’s poised to equal (or surpass) Jody Weech’s 1992 Top 10 finish.
GROUP 2 – Albania, England, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa
INDONESIA – Carla Yules. Her appealing pan-Asian features call to mind several recent contestants from all over the region. There are angles of her compatriot Kezia Warouw, mixed with Philippines’ Maxine Medina, both of whom competed in Miss Universe 2016. Then, there’s also a slight hint of Miss World 2012 from China, Wen Xia Yu. It’s quite a breathtaking mix, and even though she was edged by Nepal in Round 2 of the Head-to-Head Challenge, she’s bound to make the next round as one of the judges’ picks. All though, it’s strange she wasn’t shortlisted in Beauty with a Purpose, as this country normally dominates that category.
EL SALVADOR – Nicole Alvarez. Knowing that she’s a barista from one of the world’s top coffee exporters is a cute tidbit, but she’s not expected to duplicate Fatima Cuellar’s landmark 2017 feat just yet.
ALBANIA – Amela Agastra. This country seems to enjoy sending raw ingenues to this pageant, though this 18-year-old is a confident speaker with an engaging sense of humor to boot. Aside from that, she was also short-listed in the Talent Fast Track.
ENGLAND – Rehema Muthamia. The site of the UK capital sends its second immigrant in a row. This Kenyan transplant has a master’s degree in generics and currently works as a health technology consultant. She’s the likeliest to carry the Union Jack flag to the finals. Apart from getting shortlisted in Talent, she’s now also up for Beauty with a Purpose. It’s possible that she can endear the judges enough to keep her in the running.
SOUTH AFRICA – Shudufhadzo Musida. When she won her national title two years ago, fans were mystified by her regal bearings that she was pegged as an early frontrunner – even if she wasn’t assigned an international pageant yet. It’s understandable why she didn’t advance in Head to Head, as she was grouped with an ASEAN candidate with a strong voting populace. But it’s too early to abandon all hope, because there’s no way the judges will ignore her exotic radiance. Three other Africans may have advanced ahead, but her Beauty with a Purpose citation now bolsters her prospects tenfold.
MAURITIUS – Angélique Sanson. Her light complexion suggests she’s more of French descent, than African. She is a solid candidate and was short-listed in both Talent and Sports. Outside of that, she’s overshadowed by the other stunners in her region.
GROUP 3 – Dominican Republic, Namibia, Paraguay, Singapore, Slovakia, Uruguay
NAMIBIA – Annerie Mare. With a breakthrough Miss Supranational win and an impressive (albeit unrewarded) Miss Universe showing, this has proven to be the strongest Namibian team to date. But while this counseling student is just as polished, she has yet to generate the same impact here. Her lack of Fast Track placements suggests as much. It’s possible that she can still salvage points in closed-door interview.
SLOVAKIA – Leona Novoberdaliu. While the Czech half of the former Czechoslovakia is generally expected to excel more in this field, the Slovakian side has actually had more luck here as of late, with placements in both 2013 and 2016. Logically, this articulate breathtaking blondeshould also make the same impact, but she hasn’t really been mentioned as a serious contender so far, even if she got shortlisted in the Sports Fast Track.
URUGUAY – Valentina Camejo. Even South America’s non-superpowers had their bits of triumph in recent pageants, so it’s a bit frustrating to see this country left behind. This political science teacher isn’t expected to end the 21-year drought just yet, though she did get shortlisted for Talent.
PARAGUAY – Bethania Borba. Some may revel at Nadia Ferreira’s recent 1st Runner-Up placement as their best Miss Universe finish yet, while others are probably still lamenting at how she lost the crown by a hair. But, if it’s any consolation, this social influencer made it here too. She edged Group 4’s Cayman Islands in the Head to Head finals and is now guaranteed a spot in the Top 30. That’s now two placement points for Team Paraguay this year.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Emmy Peña. While not the most conventionally stunning, this US-based international model has boundless charisma and a striking presence. It’s quite an upset that she didn’t win this group, but she can possibly continue making a strong impression in other rounds. Case in point: She was a finalist in the Top Model Fast Track.
SINGAPORE – Khai Ling Ho. This teen’s highlight was when she became disarmingly emotional as she named the disappearance of COVID-19 as her biggest wish. That might have sent votes her way, but it’s unclear if she can out-charm the other Asians in the overall race.
GROUP 4 – Cayman Islands, Honduras, Poland, Scotland, Serbia, Sri Lanka
POLAND – Karolina Bielawska. This management student is one of the prettiest in the bunch, so her Top Model placement was more than justifiable. She’s also a charmer with great communication skills, as displayed in her Head to Head round. She may not have a “placement ticket” just yet, but it would be a travesty to leave her out of the running.
SRI LANKA – Sadé Greenwood. This raw ingenue is of Eurasian mix as her father’s German-British and her mother is from her homeland. It was easy to dismiss her as a potential also-ran after this round. But now that she’s one of the Beauty with a Purpose finalists, she now has the upper hand. Bear in mind that last year’s BWAP finalists were all granted instant placements. So, are we about to witness this country’s first placement since 1978? It’s possible now.
CAYMAN ISLANDS – Rashana Hydes. This exuberant young lady bears a slight resemblance to Miss US Virgin Islands 2011 Esonica Vieira, the territory’s best ever placer who also went on to join three more global pageants. She does mirror the vibrance of her “big sister”, which explains how she won this group with ease. She may have been edged by Paraguay in the Head to Head finals, she’ll probably continue to charm in the judging rounds. That would be an overdue follow-up. The islands first and last placed with 1982’s Maureen Lewis.
SCOTLAND – Claudia Todd. When the UK’s constituent countries began competing separately in 1999, this country used to have the upper hand. These days, that rule no longer strictly applies, as we’ve seen it edged out by its three neighbors in recent years. Same case might apply again, though this charmer has cute sense of humor and was shortlisted in Sports.
SERBIA – Andrijana Savic. Ever since the last remnants of Yugoslavia dissolved in 2006, the site of the former country’s capital has had an uneven run. This student has vaguely Latin features and seems to be their most solid shot in years, though she’s only made a splash in Sports.
HONDURAS – Dayana Bordas. Yes, she talks fast, but that only means she overflows with energy and passion. This proud member of the indigenous Misquitas group is this Central American country’s strongest shot in years. Too bad she hasn’t figured in any of the Fast Tracks, because she’d be a frontrunner in other pageants. One can only hope she endears the panel strongly enough.