Berger To Linger Longer

Apr 26, 2013 by

Berger To Linger Longer

The high street bookmakers have been decidedly reticent this year in pricing up the ESC markets in full, which is a great shame for those who like looking beyond Outright and To Qualify markets in seeking the value.

We do, at least, have some more expansive markets offered by bwin – and good on them for pricing so many up. Let’s try and pinpoint some of the value:

1. Semi 1 Head-to-Head – Ukraine vs Russia – Russia @1.95

Russia looks the call here for 2 main reasons. In terms of voting strength Russia is comfortably clear of its Eastern European rival in semi 1 and can rely on support from Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Moldova and Lithuania. And while vocally, Dina and Zlata appear to be more or less on a par, in terms of song accessibility ‘What If’ trumps ‘Gravity’ easily.

Structurally, ‘Gravity’ is a bit of a mess, it lacks any discernible chorus, and is somewhat impenetrable on first listen, before labouring on the same refrain from about halfway until the finish. ‘What If’ has a very easy-on-the-ear melody, an uplifting chorus and can be enjoyed without difficulty thanks to its conventional composition.

Ukraine will have some staging tricks up its sleeve involving a giant and Zlata flying into the air on strings but that’s not to say such staging will be a success. And juries are there to judge song quality so such tricks are unlikely to cut the mustard with them – Mika Newton, sand artist et al, only finished 7th on the jury scoring in semi 2 in 2011. It would come as a surprise if Ukraine finishes higher than Russia on either the jury or televote side of the equation.

2. Semi 1 Head-to-Head – Netherlands vs Serbia – Serbia @2.1

The Netherlands song this year, ‘Birds’, is a real beauty and we would not be surprised to see it topping the jury vote in semi 1. However, Serbia is THE voting superpower in semi 1 and has the highly-prized pimp slot. The song is also uptempo and what all this means is, Serbia looks highly likely to top the semi 1 televote. So this battle may be decided based on which nation suffers the greatest shortfall on the other side of the scoring.

That said, there has been a general pattern in ESC semis for the televote winner to outpoint the jury winner overall. Only Belgium 2010 (Tom Dice, ‘Me And My Guitar’) bucks this trend in the last 3 contests, when it was boosted by a healthy 3rd place on the televote scoring. While this is not certain to hold up under the new scoring system, it still remains the case that if there is a tie between countries following the addition of jury and televote rankings, the televote ranking takes precedence.

Netherlands could struggle on the televote for being too esoteric, and also due to the fact it has a complete lack of voting friends. It is also the sort of song that possibly resonates more on second listen, so could be the type to do better in the final compared to the semi, certainly on the televote side of things. Not only that but the solo female competition in this semi is high and the 4 stand outs all follow one another from 5-8 which could dent all to a lesser or greater extent.

Based on their Amsterdam appearance Moje 3’s vocals are fine and the 3 ladies harmonise really well. The quality of ‘Ljubav Je Svuda’ holds up very well in the second half of semi 1 and they look capable of bringing the song to life on stage so it would be surprising if juries assess Serbia too severely. So overall, Serbia looks the call here and appears to be a shade of value at 2.1.

3. Semi 2 Head-to-Head – San Marino vs Israel – Israel @2.1

San Marino has a poor draw in 2 whereas Israel is in 10 and Israel has a raft of voting friends in France, Azerbaijan, Finland and Switzerland it should be able to rely on for solid points whereas San Marino’s vote base is small and on shaky ground since this will only be its 4th ever appearance at the ESC.

We know juries have a tendency to score well-sung classy solo ballads well. Valentina and Moran are both talented live vocalists and while juries may well rate Crisalide highly in this semi, the classy ‘Rak Bishvilo’ looks likely to be scored even more highly. If there’s little in it on the jury side of things, we are happy to take 2.1 on Israel outscoring San Marino on the televote.

4. Semi 2 To Finish In The Top 3 – Georgia @1.75

Given Georgia currently trades at a best price of 3-1 e/w a quarter the odds first 3 with Ladbrokes, 1.75 looks generous on Georgia to place in semi 2. At the high street bookmakers, the only way to get a place bet down on Georgia is by backing them e/w. Say, for example, you place £100 e/w Georgia at 3-1 with Ladbrokes. You are risking £200. If Georgia win semi 2, you make a profit of £375. Georgia finish 2nd or 3rd and you lose £25 on this bet.

With this bwin bet, if you risk the same £200 stake, you stand to win £150 if Georgia places 1st, 2nd or 3rd, so you are effectively getting the place component on an e/w bet without potentially losing the win component. Given the strength of opposition in this semi, this top 3 bet on Georgia looks a wise play.

5. Semi 2 Head-to-Head Norway vs Greece – Greece @2.55

This follows the same sort of logic as the pick of Serbia above in the Netherlands vs Serbia head-to-head in semi 1.

Greece has huge voting strength in semi 2, historical stats suggesting it is well clear of the remainder of the semi 2 field, able to count on decent support from the likes of Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Armenia and Hungary.

Having initially thought ‘Alcohol is Free’ would be frowned upon by juries, seeing this song performed live has changed opinion. This is the Arcade Fire of Eurovision 2013. Agathon Iakovidis playing his bouzouki before the Koza Mostra boys join in with trumpet, drums, guitar and accordion is authentic musicianship and creates a joyful, infectious sound.

While it doesn’t have the pimp slot Serbia has in its favour in semi 1, it still has a decent position as the opening song in the 2nd half of semi 2, and should be embraced by viewers after the snooze-fest of Iceland.

If juries are mean and impose Zaleilah-style scoring, Greece could haul in such a big total on the televote side of things that it will still out-score Norway overall, even if Norway tops the jury vote. Norway is another song that improves with repeated listens and based on the straw poll yours truly has played it to, a decent televote total for Margaret Berger’s opus is highly questionable.

Don’t forget that Romania’s Mandinga were 5th on the jury scale in its semi last year. If Greece achieves something comparable it could be very hard to dislodge from top spot in this semi.

6. Will Norway be announced as a qualifying act before Greece – No – 1.75

This bet is moving dangerously into the realms of idle speculation while making complete sense, and also offering a shade better odds than Norway being called a qualifier after Georgia, available at 1.72. If you’re feeling brave you could back both.

Last year, in Baku, we saw Azerbaijan’s neighbour Turkey announced as the final qualifier in its semi, purely as a means of creating ultimate suspense for the local viewership, and an agonising wait for Turkish fans.

The ESC, like any other TV event, is about creating the most exciting show possible so you have to assume similar thinking will be deployed by SVT, in regard to its 2 Scandi neighbours in Denmark and Norway, also responsible for 2 of the strongest fancied songs at this year’s Contest.

So it would come as no surprise if Denmark is left until last in semi 1, and Norway in semi 2. Finland could also be one of those 10 semi 2 qualifiers but it would make far more sense if Krista and Team DingDong are called early, as something of a surprise qualifier, and to withhold Norway until last making the Norwegian fans sweat, and leaving the wider ESC fan base on the edge of their seats, given Norway resides as 3rd favourite to win ESC 2013.

What are your thoughts on the above? Last year, 4 out of 6 were landed on a similar list of markets offered by Stan James. A similar strike rate would see a healthy profit. Have you spotted anything else you see as value? As usual, please do add your analysis below.


  1. Chiggs

    Great post Rob.

    I had already taken tips 2 & 3 at the minuscule stakes Bwin offer me and have noticed the odds have now fallen below evens, no doubt due to this post!

    Of all your tips, I see Georgia top 3 as the most certain outcome so I lumped more on despite already owning longer odds with e/w bets. I can’t see myself going for tip 6 (too speculative) but tips 1 & 5 look good from a value perspective.

    Serbia @ 4.0 for top 3 in semi 1 is the bet I’d recommend especially for those who don’t already have a Serbia e/w bet.

    • mykal

      hi, someone help me out here please…i can’t post on the Betfair “specials” forum, would some kind soul post the following on the “eurovision top 3” by mugptr thanks.
      1.NORWAY…so easily the best.
      2.UKRAINE…strange song but the vocal is outstanding.
      3.SERBIA…the best outsider (120/1) for me.
      The Netherlands is just a totally awful, awful song…Denmark will be found out “live” and most will take a loss laying it back…Bexley will not be pleased at all, me tipping NORWAY lol.
      kind regards and the best of luck…FUNKY XXX

      • mykal

        a huge thank you to “johnnyrant” for taking the time.
        god bless.

  2. Rob

    Hi Chiggs. I think your frustration at limited stakes will be shared by many. It’s been disappointing to see the high st bookies largely duck ESC 2013 to date.

    It’s also a good spot of yours on Serbia to place top 3 in semi 1 @4.0 for those who haven’t invested e/w previously. It’s best place odds are with Ladbrokes, 12-1, a quarter the odds, so 4.0 but like the Georgia top 3 bet you are placing your entire stake on the place element with bwin & not risking losing the win bet.

  3. Justin

    Hi Rob – good post and just want to reiterate the well done to Bwin for pricing these up. I am sure Stan James and one or two others had match bet prices at this time last year but seem to be hiding this year.

    On similar reasoning to your Norway to be announced a qualifier after Greece bet I have already taken Denmark to be announced after Russia @ 1.9 (Bwin – I think the price has gone now).

    Given the contest is virtually being held in Denmark I though this looked very solid.

    I did a bit of research on this and the last time the Contest was held in Scandi (Norway 2010) in semi 1 the last to be announced was Iceland; in semi 2 it was….. Denmark! Surely SVT wont be able to resist a repeat! Definitely worth a punt.

  4. Rob

    Hi Jason. Yes, SJ were a lot more active last year, & had stuff like ‘Top Balkan’, ‘Top Big 5’ priced up. Hopefully we will see some more markets in next week or so.

    Well done on snapping up the 1.9 Denmark after Russia. Your 2010 research backs up the view they will withhold the big 2 Scandi qualifiers for maximum suspense.

  5. Rob

    Sorry, Justin!!!

  6. Rob

    Based on earlier live concert footage of Bonnie singing ‘Believe In Me’ on YT it looked like we could have a Humpy mark II on our hands. Well, this reinforces the view her backing singers are going to have to do a miraculous job:

  7. Great post Rob! I had previously had a nibble on the Ireland vs Austria at over evens, but have also had a nibble on Greece after watching them in London (I even downloaded their album)!

    Having such a busy week getting the site back up and running, I have to say you’ve beaten us to the value here.

    See you in Malmo!

  8. Rob

    Hi Gav,
    I also clocked that Ireland vs Austria match bet, & took Ireland at the odds. Without bwin ESC betting markets would be extremely barren.

    Sorry to hear of hassles involving site. You’ve done well to get things up & running again so fast. See you in Malmo!!

  9. Rob

    Some informative wording from the 2013 Media Handbook:

    • Each jury member of each national jury will rank
    all songs in the show;

    • The combined rank of each country’s jury
    members determines the jury result of that
    particular country;

    • By judging each song each jury member will focus
    on the vocal capacity of the artist(s), the
    performance on stage, the composition and
    originality of the song, and the overall impression
    by the act.

  10. Rob

    Good to see Marge finally come out of hiding after zero promotion of her song:

  11. A Edwards

    Sportingbet have priced up top 4 and top 10 market.

    • Rob

      Thanks AE. Let’s hope more bookies follow suit & we get a wider range of markets soon.

  12. Kieran

    Hi Rob! Rob,do you have any thoughts on Serbia getting into the top 10, should they get through the semis?

    • Rob

      Hi Kieran. Serbia is in the top 4 in this year’s final in terms of voting strength, so its top 10 prospects, on the surface, look good.

      I will be keeping my powder dry until we see how well Moje 3 perform the song during rehearsals in Malmo, & seeing its final running order position, assuming it progresses from semi 1 😉

      The concern is, much like Greece, how much Serbia could be dragged back under the new scoring system by potentially pernicious juries.

  13. eurovicious

    It looks like the two SF1 head-to-heads tipped here have gone already. The only SF1 head-to-head that Bwin is still offering is Austria vs Ireland.

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