ESC 2012 Betting Review

Jun 11, 2012 by

ESC 2012 Betting Review

Having returned from Baku exhausted and taking the last 2 weeks to recover, not to mention round up winnings from miserly betting shop managers trying to claim, ‘sorry mate, Macedonia didn’t qualify’. And others telling us to come back another day because they didn’t have enough cash to pay us out, despite emptying the in-shop AWPs in an attempt to cover the required winnings – always a sweet moment for any punter – it is time for an assessment of our ESC 2012 betting recommendations and trading advice.

Iceland (50-1) and Spain (40-1) were our early value shouts on the Outright market and both significantly dropped in price on Betfair making them both good trades and wise enough selections despite their ultimately disappointing finishing positions of 20th and 10th respectively.

We will write a last ESC 2012 post once the EBU release the televote/jury split but we expect it was Albania that got the sort of jury total we were expecting Spain to receive. Choosing 19 was a clear error made by the Spanish delegation, allowing Roman Lob to steal some of Pastora’s thunder, but overall we have no regrets in advising Spain, and reckon it was a good shout for a potential top 4.

Dating back to March 13 (‘Time To Invest In Serbian Safe Haven’) we banged on about how solid a betting proposition Serbia looked and advised it e/w at 16-1 first 3, and 14-1 e/w first 4. In that post, we also advised keeping Sweden green and laying Russia.

‘Taking Sweden to begin with, as soon as we heard ‘Euphoria’ for the first time in the first MF semi-final, we thought it screamed winner, at least of this year’s MF final…It’s a very impressive trance tune, and Loreen’s bewitching, organic dance moves really add something extra to the song. We know the staging is going to be excellent… the signs are she is a capable vocalist who can cope quite comfortably with the demands of this song… Some shrewd commentators suggest it has a slightly dated sound. We’re not sure we go along with that view. It strikes us as contemporary enough, more so given Loreen’s captivating stage performance.

‘To help get Sweden green in your book, you need to be laying which brings us to second favourite Russia. The Russian entry is perplexing us somewhat in that we expected it to drift back out to a double figure price but it is holding on Betfair around the 7.8 mark. We have to rate this an amazing lay at the price. If you have the balls and the bank to do so, we’d suggest laying it to your limit and here’s the simple reasoning: while Eurovision televoters may be swept along by a wave of goodwill watching a bunch of traditionally-dressed female seniors swaying from side to side and trying to tap their toes to the basic lyric, ‘Come on and dance’, and it may well figure at the top of the televote, we cannot envisage juries rewarding this very basic and frankly weak tune.’

To be honest, we were shocked by Russia’s 2nd place. It will be interesting to see exactly what Russia achieved on the jury vote in its 259 point total. If it received a respectable jury total, that will look very dubious to us, and not something we could ever have foreseen.

On March 29, we began the ESC betting assault properly. UK vs Greece. Greece 6-5. LANDED!

Top Baltic – Estonia 4-5. LANDED!

Top Balkan – Serbia 6-5. LANDED!

Group To Provide Most Combined Points – Top 8 Evens. LANDED! (The top 8 amassed a huge 1483pts; the remainder of the field, 953pts)

Top Big 5 – Spain 11-4. LOST, by a meagre 13pts to Germany which was later recommended as a saver in this market. We felt the hot fav in this market, Italy, was worth taking on and so it proved… just, Italy finishing 9pts behind Germany.

Cyprus vs Greece – Greece 8-13. LOST, by one miserly point. Still cannot entirely fathom how this happened. Greece’s huge under-achievement in the final came as a big surprise. Eleftheria delivered the song adequately enough and you would have expected its traditional televoting allies to have thrust it towards the top 10 from the 16 slot. It didn’t happen. We can only summise Loreen arriving at 17 totally eclipsed Greece.

Still, 4 out of 6 is a good enough strike rate, and we will happily take that at every ESC.

Albania at Evens was our first and strongest semi-final qualifying recommendation pre-rehearsals. As was Belarus not to qualify at 3.2, and suggesting laying it at 1.5 on Betfair. We initially suggested Croatia was qualifying value but feverishly backtracked on this after seeing the rehearsals live in Baku, suggesting both Slovenia and Croatia would miss out.

We followed up on April 12 by suggesting a back of Albania at 66-1 e/w in semi 1. This was a case of incredibly close but no cigar with Albania finishing 2nd beaten 6pts by those wretched grannies from Russia. We also recommended Romania at 12-1e/w, and Romania landed the place money finishing 3rd.

We suggested a lay of Russia around the 2-1 mark and a back of Denmark. Denmark’s 9th place finish in semi 1 is certainly among the biggest shocks at ESC 2012 in our view. Soluna was suffering with illness but delivered the song adequately enough in front of juries. We can only think Russia, arriving at 14, made everyone forget the Danish song that preceded it. Russia winning this semi still surprises us. Let’s wait and see what the juries gave it.

In semi 2 we saw Bosnia as the e/w value. It was a decent stab – Maya Sar finishing 6th. We also suggested backing Serbia heavily for a top 3 finish at 1.4 or bigger. Serbia proved the top 3 lock we always suspected, finishing 2nd in semi 2 behind Sweden. Norway was advised as an e/w alternative to Sweden and its poor finish of 10th – only getting 10th on countback ahead of Bulgaria – was in our view the biggest shock of the lot.

We did ask the question whether juries would penalise Norway as something of a copy of Sweden 2011. This appears to have come to pass. And Tooji’s televote appeal clearly did not come close to Saade’s. It was a well-executed pop package and its poor semi-final score and last place in the final are among those non-sensical results that pop up at the ESC from time to time, and you have to take on the chin.

Among the over-priced nations we flagged up on April 24 (‘The Joy Of Six’) we gave Azerbaijan at 50-1 e/w. This proved a shrewd call as Sabina managed 4th place with ‘When The Music Dies’. We also remained cold on Italy’s Outright chance throughout, and, as predicted, it didn’t live up to its position in the betting market as second favourite ante-post, finishing 9th.

Come the semi-finals, having witnessed all the rehearsals and then the jury performances, we gave readers 19 out of 20 qualifiers, landing the full house in semi 2. That’s top notch ESC analysis, even if we say so ourselves. No other ESC site can claim that strike rate.

From observing in the press centre we remained strongly in favour of Denmark winning semi 1. All we can say is, we got that one wrong. Its poor finishing position, in both semi 1 and the final, certainly shocked us. But we also gave Albania for a top 3 finish at 9-1. We remained of the opinion Albania was excellent qualifying value at 4-6 and we also suggested Hungary was value to qualify at Evens.

Despite calling 9 qualifiers, semi 1 wasn’t as big a trading success as semi 2 in the sense of ‘to qualify/not to qualify’ recommendations, as Cyprus was given as a value lay in semi 1 but it got through. Ivi Adamou really did struggle vocally in front of the juries but improved on the Tuesday night and must have been helped by all the fanboys’ televote support.

In semi 1, and as a big signpost to layers, we stated early on that we couldn’t see Montenegro, San Marino, Latvia or Belgium qualifying. Furthermore, we have to give ourselves a pat on the back for calling it right regarding Belgium vs Finland. The majority were claiming Belgium was ‘more contemporary’ and hence would be preferred by juries. We never saw it that way and always felt Pernilla’s ballad was a far classier entry. Finland came close to qualifying in 12th whereas Iris’s lame effort ‘Would You?’ ended up deservedly languishing in 17th.

In semi 2, Norway remained our strong fancy yet it bombed out much like Denmark in semi 1, and this was a huge surprise. But we nailed it with our strong view, going against the grain, that Slovenia would not be qualifying and was an outstanding lay at 1.5 or less. Slovenia came 17th out of 18. At least juries got this one right but 2012, perhaps more than any other year, exemplified how untrustworthy ESC jurors can be.

‘Slovenia is considered a banker by many people here but we remain unconvinced and the simple fact is, it’s qualifying price on Betfair is wrong and screams lay at anything around the current quote of 1.5. It could easily come up short when the Balkan votes get spread around, and it is further weakened by having Croatia follow it. Watching this semi in running order, you sense these 2 nations harm one another and both become rather forgettable in 9 and 10. Eva may well have come off worse last night in front of the juries too as Nina from Croatia definitely stepped up a gear and sold her ballad better. Croatia has bigger voting strength than Slovenia in this semi-final too.’

In the Outright for semi 2, we stressed to keep Sweden no worse than a zero in your book as we knew it would be hard to beat but represented no value. Malta was an inspired qualification tip at 3-1 and through the duration of our ESC posts we were always strong on Macedonia getting through and were also very strong on Ukraine and Estonia after the jury performance, giving Estonia as a qualification banker at 1-3 for the big hitters. Estonia to beat Slovenia at 3-4 and Croatia to beat Slovenia at 17-10 also proved shrewd h2h selections. Calling Slovakia, Georgia and Belarus as additional non-qualifiers were further feathers in our cap.

Come the final, we said we expected Sweden to win but we preferred to seek better value alternatives. Ukraine was one of those e/w selections and it finished a disappointing 15th. Serbia landed the e/w money in 3rd, Turkey proved a wise top 10 banker, but Greece and Ukraine less so as both surprisingly missed out on the top 10.

Albania was advised at 15-2 to finish top 10 but one of our most lucrative trading angles in 2012 was opposing the UK in every market. It finished 25th.

‘As for the UK, we see a monumental laying angle with Humpy. His voice sounded strained and he really did struggle to get through ‘Love Will Set You Free’ last night. Juries may be sympathetic, given his age, but it’s hard not to reach the conclusion the UK is highly likely to end up finishing 16th or lower.’

It was a tricky betting year as we always base our recommendations on value so tried to oppose the 2 semi-final favs in Russia and Sweden, and were always trying to find a bigger priced nation that might be able to topple Sweden in the final. That said, no other ESC site gave as consistently positive reports regarding Loreen during rehearsals than EntertainmentOdds. Others suggested it looked like a lay, expressed doubts and claimed it wasn’t shaping up well enough. But we were right in our assessment and in advising readers to keep Sweden green.

Russia’s semi win and 2nd in the final resulted in some laying losses. But we stand by our opinion Russia was worth laying, and it made sense to lay Russia. We also called it correctly with Ireland, suggesting the Jedward bubble would burst and ‘Waterline’ wouldn’t be troubling the top 10. It finished 19th from the favourable 23 slot.

It was a year of 7/10 for our ESC betting in 2012 whereas the previous 2 years, courtesy of big-priced semi-final and final winners, it was more of a 8.5/10. The big lesson we will take into 2013 is to go in biggest on the trades we are strongest on and leave the more borderline ones alone.

We also now see clear value in backing 1-3 shots to qualify in the semis – at least when you are at the venue and able to see and hear the jury performances – an aspect of semi-final trading we wouldn’t have played in the past but will do in future.

If you followed us throughout you should have turned a very tidy profit. All credit to Loreen and Sweden – a very worthy winner in our view, and a nice little earner to boot. Roll on Stockholm 2013!!
Rob Furber

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1 Comment

  1. Rob

    Thanks Matt. Got back from Baku and duly went down with horrible flu symptoms 🙁 Put that down to coming off an intense 2 weeks of blogging and trading out there.
    Still, wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Got major post-ESC blues now. Counting down the days to next year’s ESC already. Keep an eye out for one more ESC 2012 post – an analysis after we get to see the full televote/jury vote breakdown.

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