Text and graphics by Drew Francisco @angharaya

Despite the global pandemic and the bumpy road along the way (pandemic or politically related they may be), we are finally just a few hours away before the much anticipated staging of the 70th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant.

As a tradition, we consolidated the entries of Missosology’s resident pageant experts and seasoned correspondents about their overall impression of the delegates. And just like in the last edition, there was no unanimous decision when it comes to the selection on who will be the number 1 in the Final Hot Picks.

However, after further deliberations by our core group, the choice became clearer: India’s Harnaaz Sandhu is the woman to beat at the 70th Miss Universe pageant. Not only did she live up to our expectations, she has also been consistent all throughout the competition. There is something unique about Harnaaz that made us believe that she can best represent the Miss Universe brand. During the preliminaries, Harnaaz was stately but daring, beautiful yet sexy, and had excellent timing and great overall presentation. Aside from that, she has the gift of gab that the MUO is looking for in a spokesperson. India’s renaissance has finally arrived at Miss Unvierse, and Harnaaz has all the goods to seal it with a victory.

But if there is anyone who can ruin it all for India, that would be the USA’s Elle Smith. Who would have thought that she just won Miss USA a few days prior to arriving in Israel for Miss Universe? She is intelligent, passionate with her cause, and is very confident on and off stage. Once she enters the Top 5, it will be hard to prevent Elle from going further because her manner of speaking is so engaging that everyone is instantlu drawn to her.

Entering the fray is Puerto Rico’s Michelle Marie Colon. The island of enchantment has proven time and again that the Puerto Rico sash in Miss Universe cannot be underestimated. Michelle looked like a divine goddess during the preliminary competition, and it was just impossible not to notice her. She was vivacious, fierce and simply confident. She’s the kind of contestant pageant watchers love the most – the one who has it without having to try too hard.

Back in the Top 5 is Colombia’s Valeria Ayos who has already proven her mettle in the international arena, finishing as Miss Earth Water at the 2018 Miss Earth contest. She has left a mark among pageant fans with her charisma, wit, beauty and stage presence and she has shown all those qualities throughout the competition. She is solid all around – smoking hot body, stunning face, magnetic aura and good communication skills. You know this girl will deliver when it matters!

Completing our Top 5 is the Philippines’ Beatrice Luigi Gomez. Despite the pressure that comes with wearing the Philippine sash, Beatrice seems to be totally unaffected and has shown grace and poise throughout the competition. Pageant fans could sometimes be very nitpicky, but to our pool of experts, Beatrice’s overall performance during the preliminary competition was outstanding.

Also worth mentioning is Belgium’s Kedist Deltour who has been an underdog in the competition until the prelims. She wowed the pageant enthusiasts worldwide with her beauty and poise. She may not have chosen the best of gowns but she carried it anyway like a pro. The Miss Belgium organization made the right decision of sending Kedist to Miss Universe because this is the pageant where everything about her will be appreciated: beauty, body, personality and an interesting story.

Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira is beautiful and striking and seemingly strong in all areas so she’s definitely good for a really high final placement. We honestly thought she had a phenomenal preliminary performance but for traditional pageant analysts, her sash would be too big of a hurdle to overcome in the face of a few powerhouse countries that are also being represented by equally capable girls. We do hope that her chances rests upon her inherent strength and not on the sash weight.

Spain’s Sarah Loinaz has been turning heads since arriving in Israel. Performance-wise, Sarah was sassy and fierce on the prelims stage but her star did not shine when it was needed the most. Although some have already ceased to believe in her, we cannot write her off from our final hot picks. Sarah has good communication skills, which she has proven during her Missosology Beauty Talks guesting, and with her lovable personality and dedication to her ocean and marine life advocacy, we expect her to redeem herself come finale.

Queenly, oozing with confidence and with a sparkling beauty, France’s Clémence Botino is a huge threat to the frontrunners. After being sidelined early on in the competition for testing positive for Covid, it seems Clémence had a new-found confidence. Watch out for her! She may be in 9th place in this list but don’t be surprised if she makes it all the way to the top.

Completing our Top 10 is the Dominican Republic’s Debbie Aflalo who is no doubt a scene stealer. Her superb performance in both swimsuit and gown preliminaries caught the attention of many and she came off as one of the strongest candidates. Many of analysts believe that she could pull a surprise come finals.

Check out the full list below:

1 India, Harnaaz Sandhu
2 USA, Elle Smith
3 Puerto Rico, Michelle Marie Colon
4 Colombia, Valeria Ayos
5 Philippines, Beatrice Luigi Gomez

6 Belgium, Kedist Deltour
7 Paraguay, Nadia Ferreira
8 Spain, Sarah Loinaz
9 France, Clémence Botino
10 Dominican Republic, Debbie Aflalo

11 Venezuela, Luiseth Materan
12 Vietnam, Kim Duyen
13 Chile, Antonia Figueroa
14 Namibia, Chelsi Shikongo
15 South Africa, Lalela Mswane

16 Brazil, Teresa Santos
17 Kenya, Roshanara Ebrahim
18 Portugal, Oricia Dos Santos
19 Italy, Caterina Di Fuccia
20 Thailand, Anchilee Scott-Kemmis

21 Czech Republic, Karolína Kokešová
22 The Bahamas, Chantel O’Brian
23 Costa Rica, Valeria Rees
24 Nepal, Sujita Basnet
25 Israel, Noa Cochva

Follow Missosology’s social media pages for more updates. Missosology.Org