‘Birds’ The Semi 1 Value

May 14, 2013 by

‘Birds’ The Semi 1 Value

After last night’s jury performance, semi 1 remains a perplexing puzzle. It was back on March 28 that the case was made here for Serbia being a great value e/w bet in this semi at 25-1, given the pimp slot and its voting strength in this semi.

The good news for those who followed that advice is that Moje 3 performed the song to the best of their ability in front of the juries. They could have done no more and Serbia remains a possible to get on the podium.

Denmark and Russia hold solid claims and may well take 2 of the podium spots. Of the 2, Denmark looks the more likely semi 1 winner as Emmelie produced a strong performance last night and with the pyro curtain and confetti raining down at its climax, it will try its best to tell the audience ‘winner’ this evening.

6-4 Denmark to win this semi is a bit too short for this site’s tastes, and we would rather seek 1 or 2 other nations who might surprise by landing in the top 3. And top of that list would have to be The Netherlands.

In 5 of the last 6 ESC semi-finals, the jury vote winner has got on the podium. Lithuania (‘C’est ma vie’) is the odd one out here, winning the jury vote in 2011 but ending up 5th overall after slipping down to 11th on the televote scoring. In that year, Lithuania only just edged out Azerbaijan by 4pts on the jury vote.

Having sat there spellbound last night watching Anouk singing this dreamy delight of a song, ‘Birds’ is strikingly different, and an oasis of originality and authenticity in this semi. As observed throughout the rehearsal period, it is in its favour that it doesn’t have any of the gimmicks of the 3 solo females that come before it – especially coming after the staging nonsense of Ukraine – and it succeeds in its stripped back simplicity.

Regardless of The Netherlands perceived lack of voting friends, there is no reason why this song will not resonate with a good proportion of televoters tuning in tonight. Sometimes at Eurovision it pays to be different and 12-1 e/w a quarter the odds with Ladbrokes simply looks far too big for a song that has the look of a potential jury winner in semi 1. If you are feeling brave you can take 14-1 The Netherlands for the win with Paddy Power.

The other nation to consider, at least for a Top 3 finish, is probably Ireland. It is possible that an uptempo tune in the 2nd half of semi 1 might strike a chord with those tuning in and get a great result on the televote. Performing in the 13 slot, this song has enough about it to trump Belarus (11), for those who like a toe-tapper, and Ryan Dolan performed well in front of the juries last night. It is hard to imagine it winning this semi, but 7-1 Ireland for a Top 3 finish looks worth a small investment.

Ukraine looks well worth taking on in the semi 1 Top 3 market at anything around the 1.6 mark on Betfair. The fact remains ‘Gravity’ is poorly structured and the staging misses the mark too. The giant is ridiculous and it is basically 3 minutes of Zlata standing on a rock saying, ‘Look at me. Aren’t I amazing.’ Her vocal is good but if this is a song contest then ‘Gravity’ should not be finishing in the Top 3 in this semi.

In terms of qualification value, much of it has sadly dried up in this semi. Having taken the view early on that Croatia looked an over-priced gem at 6-4, it now trades at a best price of 4-11. Austria has long looked a value qualifying lay at odds-on, but the value in opposing Austria has gone.

There look to be 8 nations with a very strong qualifying claim in this semi in Denmark, Russia, The Netherlands, Ireland, Serbia, Croatia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Belarus will more likely qualify than not, but it’s not one that inspires to get involved either way. Alyona sold it very well last night but there is a sense this old school ethno pop is looking a bit tired, and cheap on the ESC stage these days so juries may be tough on Belarus.

The scrap for the (in theory) last qualifying place is a fascinating one and we can make some sort of case for all of the remaining countries.

Austria’s Natalia, you sense, disappears down the memory plug hole, and it looks a big ask for Birgit to get in the 10 from the 2 draw, despite her stellar vocal and power note – which makes 5-6 Estonia not to qualify possibly a shade of value with Skybet and SportingBet.

Slovenia’s poor draw is further hamstrung by a poor performance by Hannah last night in front of the juries. And while Lithuania’s Andrius has a certain unique, amateurish charm on stage, and ‘Something’ is a decent enough tune, you sense it is failing on the Malmo stage.

So that 10th spot looks more of a battle between Belgium, Cyprus and Montenegro. Despite Roberto getting a reprieve, Belgium’s lack of voting strength may see it just miss out. There was talk that Eastern European jury members might be annoyed Roberto got a 2nd chance to perform last night which could see them marking him down. There was a cock up with the camera work during Lithuania’s performance but Andrius didn’t get a 2nd go so why did Roberto, might go their hard done by thinking.

Despina gave it her best in front of the juries last night for Cyprus, and the song is beautifully staged. This sort of traditional solo ballad can sometimes prove catnip for juries, and it has the better of the draw compared to Estonia, but the concern for Cyprus, like Belgium, is its lack of voting strength. If Cyprus drifts to anything above 4 on Betfair, however, it is probably worth a small investment to qualify.

The qualification value early on in semi 1, as flagged up here on April 9, was Montenegro, at 4.7. Who See, aided by the powerhouse vocal of Nina Zizic, did a good job in front of the juries, and there may well be enough Balkan love for this to get it into the 10. This could be one where heart is ruling head but the selection here remains Who See and Nina to make history by becoming Montenegro’s first ever final qualifier.

So, as far as tv betting website bragging rights go, the 10 countries this analyst expects to see qualifying tonight are: Denmark, Russia, The Netherlands, Ireland, Serbia, Croatia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Montenegro.

The value approach we adopt here to both backing and laying means we cannot resist a lay of Ukraine to qualify at 1.05 (at time of writing). As stated many times previously but worth stating again, It’s a badly structured, dog’s dinner of a song, the staging is far from magical and its only redeeming quality is Zlata’s vocal. A potential £500 profit for the small risk amount of £25? Yes, please.

There is another rehearsal this afternoon. If anything interesting crops up, comments will be added below this post. After we learn the 10 qualifiers tonight, a press conference will follow at which the 10 qualifiers will draw either 1st half or 2nd half running order positions in the final. This will have implications for the Outright market which, again, we will cover in the Comments section below.

Where do you see the value ahead of tonight? As always, please do drop us a line below.


  1. Matt

    Not surprisingly i agree with your nine and will, wallet ruling heart, plump for Belgium to grab 10th. I think Cyprus and then Montenegro will be its main competition. I’m also sticking with Serbia and Netherlands to battle for third and laying the hell out of Ukraine.

    Any idea how long after the semi the draw is Rob?

    • Rob

      Qualifiers press conference scheduled for 11.20-midnight Malmo time, Matt, so 10.20-11pm in the UK – imagine it’ll be shown live on eurovision.tv

  2. Boki

    Fully agree on Anouk top3 Rob, good luck!

    I don’t get the Ireland love from everyone but one doesn’t need to understand everything, will skip that one anyway.

  3. neomichael

    i cannot understand why Croatia is considered to be a sure qualifier. Due to neighboring tele-votes,jury votes or the quality of the song itself? I cannot see neither of them to be for sure, especially the quality of the song and the jury votes remember Amaury Vassili-France participation in 2011).

    from Greece

    • Rob

      Hi Mihalis,
      It has a USP (unique selling point). It’s distinctive and has the look and feel of authenticity and quality musicianship on stage. They are vocally flawless & following Slovenia last night during the jury performance, that vocal quality really shone. High enough on jury vote & televotes of allies should see it comfortably through (famous last words!).

  4. mykal

    hi peeps, my cert qualifiers are SERBIA,DENMARK,RUSSIA,UKRAINE,BELARUS & IRELAND…the rest are quite appauling and that includes the morose Dutch entry.
    if you are looking for a biggun to flop look no further than the orange one.
    i have seen it many times over the years…NO ONE VOTES FOR THE NETHERLANDS !
    Good luck.

  5. Tim B

    My ten qualifiers haven’t changed over the last few days, but here they are for potential bragging: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Belgium and Serbia.

    If one misses out for whatever reason, I think Estonia is the next most likely.

  6. Steve

    Thanks to guidance/advice from Rob and all those other posters I have finalised my own top ten with Denmark, Russia and Serbia (Or Moldova) taking podium finishes. In order of performance I have the qualifiers as

    Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Montenegro, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, and Serbia.

  7. Rob

    Not much to report on this afternoon’s rehearsal. Petra talks to the Ukrainian giant while the voting window takes place. She also mention’s Montenegro’s astronauts. And she then talks to Estonia’s Birgit.

    Despina was very good today & the Danish staging has really come together. They all sounded good this afternoon & more relaxed than last night. The nerves obviously kick in with some when they know it’s the performance that matters.

    Birgit’s reminder clip for viewers is her hitting her power note. And Emmelie’s clip is her with the pyro curtain behind her.

  8. Rob

    The simulation this afternoon gave 8 of my semi qualifiers plus Estonia and Belgium (with Belarus & Montenegro missing out). Was this an indication of the jury vote last night – the jury top 10?

  9. Ben Gray

    My predicted 10 qualifiers in no particular order from tonight’s Eurovision first semi-final are… Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Montenegro, Cyprus, Moldova, Ireland and Serbia.

  10. fiveleaves

    Good luck tonight Rob,
    I’m on Ireland in most markets. Including top 3 tonight.
    I’ve also backed Netherlands to win the semi.
    As Anouk says, sometimes, less is more.
    btw Some good coverage for her in todays Metro.

    My 10 are – Netherlands, Denmark, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland, Moldova, Croatia, Serbia, Belgium & Cyrus.
    Would love Austria & Lithuania to qualify too.

  11. Roach

    Great write-up, Rob. It seems Ireland have really come on thru the rehearsals and it does seem set up for them to have a decent night. Holland is such an interesting one. One of my favourite few in the competition and it sounds like she’ll nail it, but the question still hangs over the televote.

    Having backed Croatia & then Moldova to qualify last week and before, I am now concentrating mainly on laying the 6-7 outsiders in the book (most notably Austria – NAP!- and Lithuania – NB!) in the belief that assuming Belarus doesn’t bomb out, there is only one spot up for grabs.

    Of the late money, it seems Estonia are the final market fancy for that? Any view on why they’re now odds on, Rob? purely cos she gets a mini interview and her big note in the recap? (the latter often a given anyway, I’d say?)

    And Denmark from 6/4 into Evens for the Semi win. Was it that good? Your colleagues from other sites have said it was!

    Good luck all 🙂

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting your thoughts, Roach. The Danish song had all the paraphernalia added – the pyro curtain & the confetti – it looks like a coronation, & talk today Copenhagen will be venue next year if Emmelie wins.

      View among some that Denmark topped jury vote last night, & with Russia/Ukraine not looking the strongest competition… I still think Anouk could have won jury vote.

      The simulated 10 that they used this afternoon in rehearsal got tongues wagging that it was the jury top 10 from last night, so the fact Estonia was in there has maybe made people think it’s got a very good chance of qualifying. But it’s the sort of song that was always likely to be jury top 10, but then fall away on televote.

      As usual, a lot of rumour & Estonia looks very short to me on Betfair to qualify. Has to come back to basics of what we do, & the first 3 songs in this semi could easily disappear down the memory hole. Cyprus in a better draw position, & if Despina sings to her best tonight, would put Cyprus ahead of Estonia in pecking order of likely qualifiers. Good luck 🙂

  12. Rob

    Wow – Serbia out, Croatia out, Montenegro out. Who is getting the Balkan vote from this point on?

    7 out of 10 – settle for that. It certainly proved to be a ‘perplexing puzzle’.

    Great to see Netherlands through. Thought for a minute Ukraine was a goner. Still, the Outright market has responded with a massive drift on Ukraine.

    Stay tuned – semi 1 qualifier draw upcoming.

  13. Boki

    Damn, if you remember long time ago I considered Serbia as a NQ and then they got the pimp slot so I cancelled the operation “cheapness must go down”. Fuck.

    • Rob

      Bad luck, Boki – I recall your scepticism re. Serbia but from pimp slot with Serbia’s voting power – very surprised. Juries must have killed it.

  14. Rob

    Estonia – 1st half
    Denmark – 2nd half
    Russia – 1st half
    Ukraine – 2nd half
    Netherlands – 1st half
    Belgium – 1st half
    Belarus – 1st half
    Moldova – 1st half
    Ireland – 2nd half
    Lithuania – 1st half

    So 7 1st half gone, 4 2nd half, & among Big 5 tomorrow there are 3 1st half & 2 2nd half

    So, come the 2nd semi draw, there will be 3 1st half slots left, & 7 2nd half slots.

    This gives rise to hope for the semi 2 qualifiers.

  15. fiveleaves

    Belgium a great result here and also ended up backing my man Andrius.
    So an excellent night until the draw 🙁
    Russia had flip flopped with Ukraine and Netherlands was trading in the 20’s.
    Now all change.
    The likes of Georgia and Norway must be worth a punt given they have a very high chance of a 2nd half draw

    • Rob

      Well done, fig. Was never as confident about semi 1 as I am regarding how semi 2 will go down, & this was reflected in my conservative trading in terms of Q/NQ. The disappointment for me was Croatia not making it, having snapped it up when it was 6-4 & then around Evens.

      Andrius really has looked shambolic in terms of stagecraft but have always loved the song. Belgium looked a solid investment at anything over 3. The big shock has to be Serbia – ESC doesn’t like girlbands, especially not when they are dressed like that!!

      Looking forward to sinking my teeth more into semi 2, & then all the other markets. Norway & Georgia both look ridiculously over-priced to me. All is not lost with Anouk – reckon SVT will give her 13 & that’ll be ok. Still think it’ll be scoring very highly with juries in the final.

      The Ukraine 2nd half draw is a blessing – just keep laying at the shorter price 🙂

      • fiveleaves

        I think Andrius has an amateurish charm like Lena and like Satellite, Something is an excellent song.
        Or a song that a section of the audience will love, anyway.

        Serbia was a real shock.
        It didn’t deserve to qualify but given it’s voting strength it looked sure to do well.

        You guys out there were spot on about Austria.
        It just lacked the oomph to open the show and the staging was pretty bland until the final 30 seconds.

        I was far more confident about the 1st semi.
        The 2nd one I’m far less certain about.
        Romania to qualify and a lay of San Marino my only 2 plays.
        I hope Romania looks less chaotic on tv than it does on the youtube videos

  16. Steve

    Hey guys,

    This posting on SVT doesn’t accidentally give the results of last night does it. I can’t see any other reason for listing the qualifiers in this order otherwise


    • Tim B

      Given the strength of Russia’s entry, their voting power and excellent performances, I highly doubt that Russia was way down in 8th, or Ukraine 2nd either.

  17. Rob

    Yes, seen this Steve. Quite possibly.

  18. fiveleaves

    An interesting find Steve.
    I hope you are wrong as it has my 2 biggest reds 1st and 2nd.

  19. Boki

    Don’t believe they are so stupid to put the order especially since the SVT editors shouldn’t know the score guarded by EBU. Anyway, I think our Anouk top3 bet looks good Rob.

  20. fiveleaves

    Hopefully the Anouk to win bet too Boki 😀

    btw Rob, Loreen was interviewed during the final break on the BBC.
    She picked out Birds as her favourite song. Which can’t do it any harm.
    She also thought it was unfair for Denmark to have confetti thrown at. Saying that should be saved for the winner.

    • Boki

      Great stuff from Loreen! Btw I dutched NL and Denmark for the win and expect that to land also.

    • Rob

      Wise words from Loreen & good to see her being brave enough to say that about Denmark, & she clearly has exquisite music taste in her appreciation of ‘Birds’ 🙂

  21. Steve

    My question is though, why this order? It was neither the order they perforned or the order they were called as finalists.

    The majority of us had Serbia and and Croatia as definite qualifiers and we were well off the mark. My non Eurovision friends at our party last night chose Denmark, Netherlands and Lithuania as their top three which kinda fits into the way its has been presented on the SVT site. Listing Slovenia and Austria as bottom two sounds perfectly plausible. If it is an accurate reflection I’m on a real red as I only had Denmark as the winner (with Russia/Moldova/Ireland in the mix for top 3 and a hefty sum on Russia to beat Ukraine)

    I think i will wait to see their listing for those who qualify from semi two before looking at any more top ten bets.

    Getting very worried about my Bulgaria and Albania both to Q bet for the second semi now. Anyone fancy reassuring me before I start hedging??!

    • Rob

      Perhaps the biggest concern, Steve, is the success of Estonia in getting through last night. This perhaps tells us Iceland has a very solid qualification claim in semi 2.

      I’ve been describing Eythor as the Birgit of semi 2… & if he’s going through then something’s got to give somewhere.

      • Steve

        Thanks Rob,

        I got some good odds early on with regards to Bulgaria and Albania (thank to your site) so I can either lay some off or take a punt on Iceland. Is your belief that Israel will still trump San Marino in this semi?

        • Rob

          Yes, Steve – definitely believe Israel is the stronger ballad package overall. But the money on SM to qualify today has been relentless at a very short price on Betfair.

  22. Boki

    The worry is there Steve.

  23. Wow. Guys, I am from Netherlands. Let’s take it easy here. Anouk needs to perform in the 1st half of the show. Can you guys be a bit less enthusiastic? I still need to recover from yesterday’s envelope ceremony.

    • Boki

      Hi Gert, we were talking about the top3 and possible win of the semifinal. Please don’t remind me about the last envelope 🙂

    • Rob

      It was never in doubt Gert. And congratulations to The Netherlands on its 1st qualification to the final since 2004. Thoroughly deserved.

      • I’d say 2nd or 3rd with juries and 6th or 7th with televoters = 4th or 5th place possibly in the first semi final.

        With our neighbours it could well be the other way around. For Belgium I’d say a 6th or 7th place among juries and a 2nd place behind Denmark among televoters (Justin Bieber-factor) = probably 4th or 5th also.

        What do you guys think?

        • Rob

          Hopeful of something better than that Gert – having recommended Netherlands e/w. Pretty confident Anouk either topped jury vote or was just behind Emmelie.

          I sense the Dutch are even more eternally pessimistic than people from the UK 🙂

          • And understandable no :-P. We Dutchies have this record:
            –> last time final, 2004, 9 years ago
            –> last time TOP 10, 1999, 14 years ago

            Our oversea neighbours:
            –> final, always 😛
            –> last time TOP 10: 2002, 3rd place; 2009, 5th place, 4 years ago.
            Me as a fan….I have prayed sooo many years for such a record hehe.

            But I shall be honest…..before the contest I’ve always said: Netherlands will qualify and then do a ‘France 2009’ or perhaps ‘Albania 2012’. Thing is, now we ARE actually in the final. It feels….out from this world really. I….got kinda used to never qualify LOL. And to be honest, it gives you a rather unique objective perspective on matters like scoring. That objectiveness is…..kind of blurred now haha.

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