ESC Final: All About The 3 Ss

May 26, 2012 by

ESC Final: All About The 3 Ss

The biggest tv betting day of the year has finally arrived and we are so full of anticipation ahead of this evening it’s just as well we are not Ott Lepland from Estonia, otherwise we would be sporting a boner the size of a milk bottle.

The tantalising question for the last 2 weeks here in Baku has been, can we find one to get Loreen beaten? As we are always seeking the value alternative, we will be hoping a longer-priced nation pips Sweden, but rest assured Loreen will remain green in our book as Sweden does look the most likely winner, regardless of ‘snowflake-gate’ in front of the juries last night. Prior to that moment, ‘Euphoria’ had never looked better.

Her confidence may have been shaken so it will be interesting to keep a close eye tonight but she was incredibly professional the way she managed to carry on with her routine and finish it. There remains a doubt that Europe’s taste for this type of dramatically presented trance isn’t quite as strong as anticipated. It’s certainly a visually compelling entry which is the thing we have long thought enables ‘Euphoria’ to rise up that extra notch and give it its USP.

We will, however, remain red on the Babushki going into battle tonight, with a view to feverishly reversing positions if things start to look worrying around the halfway point – medical staff may be required to administer CPR in the press centre on this particular trader.

With this algorithm in play, it won’t be concealing Russia as they would surely have been loitering towards the bottom of the jury vote last night. Which begs the question, who might have done well on the jury vote, and possibly have its allies stacked up towards the end of the evening when the results are read out? There is a lot of competition in the jury stakes but we think one nation has great potential to have comfortably won the jury vote, much the way Italy did last year. And we think there is strong reason to hope that nation is Spain.

Pastora, as she has done throughout the rehearsal period, smashed it out of the ballpark in front of the juries last night. Yes, Spain lags behind on natural allies but arriving on stage at 19, it is noticeable on the run through just how evocative that last minute of Quedate Conmigo is – as has been our view since first hearing it.

It is the stand out moment of music at this year’s ESC in our view and could well be the winning moment. If televoters have any vague level of musical appreciation they should reward it with some votes because ‘Quedate Conmigo’ truly resonates courtesy of Pastora’s emotional delivery. Spain at 28-1 e/w first 4 with bet365 looks very generous to us.

Serbia has the look of top 4 banker material, and if things don’t pan out for Loreen or Pastora, then Zeljko could end up this year’s default winner in the same sort of way Azerbaijan achieved last year. Great draw in 24, squeezed between Jedward and Gaitana, and the last classy piece of balladry to be heard on the night. Zeljko’s good looks also give rise to the hope Serbia lands some housewife points outside its Balkan vote base.

Among the remainder, we reckon Ukraine has the strongest claims to spring a surprise and is certainly value at 33-1 with Paddy Power e/w first 4. From the 25 draw Gaitana is going to raise the roof tonight with the fans dancing and the flags waving as she belts out ‘Be My Guest’… close to heralding the end of ESC 2012 and the start of Euro 2012 coincidentally enough, as Ukraine co-hosts and this is their theme tune.

She held her vocal together well in front of the juries, and it is such a hook-heavy tune we can imagine televoters feeling the Gaitana love. Another party tune we see pushing hard for the top of the leaderboard remains Romania. While the 14 draw doesn’t look ideal for Mandinga, in the run throughs this is one of the few songs we thought left an abiding mark.

Two songs we are also keeping green going into the big night are Denmark and Greece. Soluna looks like she has been suffering with illness this week, but managed to reserve one of her best performances for last night, in front of the juries. ‘Should’ve Known Better’ stands out as an oasis of musical authenticity in 15 and her endearing garage band set may have found a warm, televote-friendly enclave sandwiched between the light, frothy pop offerings of ‘Zaleilah’ and ‘Aphrodisiac’.

Compiling a top 10 this year, we have found Greece creeping further and further up on our rankings. Aphrodisiac plays brilliantly well to the Greek core voters and could easily find plenty of love among other nations as a fun, toe-tapping summer pop tune from its favourable 16 draw. Eleftheria performed it very well last night in front of the juries, and we are extrapolating from Tuesday’s semi-final that it was Russia that required a televote to get through, so Greece landed in the jury top 10. So while there will be an anti-diaspora effect kicking in with Greece, a big televote total could still see it pushing for top 4 or 5. 40-1 Greece e/w with Ladbrokes is available, it should be noted.

Fellow voting big hitters Turkey and Azerbaijan also look strong top 10 contenders, which means we are struggling to squeeze all of Germany, Italy and Russia into the top 10, and reckon at least 2 of these are more likely to miss out, possibly all 3. Shrewdness or madness? Only time will tell. Germany and Italy may well be 2 nations we have under-estimated (ditto a potential unprecedented televote total for Russia) and if it’s not the Russian grannies it’ll be Roman and Nina we will be turning green if the scoreboard starts to give either the look of potential winners.

In terms of top 10 value, our bankers will be Greece, Turkey and Ukraine. Greece at 8-11, and Ukraine at 5-6 both look excellent value with Ladbrokes, and we will gleefully take the 6-5 Turkey with BetVictor. Can Bonomo also performed well in front of the juries, and much like Greece, you can see this endearingly-staged, ethnic tune being lapped up by Turkey’s voting allies.

We have been trying to find a nation at bigger odds that might squeeze into the 10. Rona from Albania would have hauled in a big jury total last night, and while televoters may be hard to come by outside Albania’s core support, and the 3 draw is wretched, 15-2 Albania for a top 10 with SportingBet looks a shade of value. As does the 15-4 Macedonia with Ladbrokes. Kaliopi nailed it again last night and Macedonia is 7th on our rankings in terms of voting power among this year’s finalists. The 22 draw is another positive for Kaliopi.

The top 4 value looks to be Spain at 11-2 with bwin, and in Top Big 5 Country betting we are still happy to take on Italy. The value approach to this market is to back Spain at 4-1 with Coral or William Hill, with a cover bet on Germany at 9-2 with bet365.

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. If you can find a Stan James shop, 9-2 16th-20th, and 6-1 21st-26th UK, looks an outstanding dutch (in other words, back both, for an overall return of around 2-1 if either is landed).

No YouTube video prediction this year due to time constraints and technical problems here in Baku. For bragging rights, and just for the fun of it, here’s our ESC 2012 top 10:

10th – Norway
9th – Azerbaijan
8th – Turkey
7th – Denmark
6th – Romania
5th – Greece
4th – Ukraine
3rd – Serbia
2nd – Sweden
1st – Spain

We will leave it there for now, and come back with some head-to-head value bets in the Comments section below, and any other value bets we can sniff out. Let us know your thoughts on this year’s final value and how you plan to play it tonight. We will also post any thoughts in Comments following the final rehearsal upcoming here in about half an hour.

Good luck to all our readers and fingers crossed for a profitable evening for all.
Rob Furber

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  1. Henry VIII

    Rob I thought the algorithm was applied to the combined total after all the phone votes had been counted. Surely it wouldn’t be any use if it was applied just to the jury votes?

  2. fiveleaves

    My top 4 would be same Rob. Except I’d switch Ukraine & Serbia.
    The rest I’d differ with a by a fair ammount. I’m sure you can guess one 😉

    GL for tonight and GL to Pastora. If she can pull it off it would surpass my Little Muffins win atm.
    I expect I’ll lay a little if it shortens significantly, but after a very good 6 or 7 years on these shows I’ve decided to take a far less cautious approach this year. So the plan is to hold onto the vast majority of my Spanish green.

    And just to say a big well done on your coverage this year.

  3. Rob

    Hi Henry,
    The algorithm is based on last night’s jury vote, and then also factoring in historical voting strength of nations.
    It seemed to be concealing Italy last year, which had obviously smashed the jury vote. Azerbaijan had more voting strength on the historical data though, and hit the front only around halfway, so the jury is out on what the algorithm was trying to make happen. All we know is, it is there to try and engineer a close finish.
    Serbia would have done well on jury vote and has greatest voting power among finalists this year, so maybe the algorithm is more likely to conceal Serbia.

    fiveleaves – fingers crossed for Pastora. She really has been exceptional and nailed it again last night. I put Norway in at 10 cos I’ve been largely against Italy, Germany and obviously Russia, so didn’t want to offer a top 10 place to any of those.

    Humpy just rehearsed and sounded a bit ropey, as usual.

  4. hemsby

    Really appreciate your reports and thoughts through the week.Enjoy tonight,and fingers crossed for Pastora 🙂

  5. Matt

    I’ll listen to Rob’s hostorical excellence than a troll.

    Wonderful work this fortnight Rob and do we know the voting order yet? The algorithim should give us some serious clues.

    My thoughts are very similar, though still see Germany as top ten material, so laying Italy seems to make more and more sense.


  6. Rob

    Final rehearsal report:

    Humpy still struggling, Anggun also. The music really does die when Sabina of Azerbaijan is drowned out by wailing man. Worth remembering the break comes before Azer and after Norway – possibly a little boost for Tooji, and Norway seems to have become the forgotten contender. Let’s not forget what Saade achieved last year, though Tooji maybe will not harness the tweenie vote as well as Saade did because he looks a little gay.
    Loreen back on it, but no snow effect after last night’s mishap. Does this detract a little to the visuals? Yes, I think it does, but it still looks and sounds very good.
    Pastora smashed it again. Wish she wouldn’t in a way. The big one’s tonight. Probably at only 70 per cent and still awesome.
    All the others much as they always are, and holding back for tonight, no doubt.
    One thing I did hear among some Italians on the shuttle bus on the way in – they do not want to win the ESC because the Sanremo Festival is the music event they like to focus on there – read into that what you will.
    Gaitana wisely reining it in – semi 2 qualifiers at big disadvantage when you think about it… they have to sing 8 times on 4 consecutive days, so for Gaitana, singing such a tough song as this, with no backing vocals, she is only in 2nd gear here. Good to see. Needs to save her vocal chords for tonight.
    Pasha ends things well… will be a good song to close the show. Fun, frivolous, madcap…

    T minus 5 hours and counting. Not enough hours in the day today.

  7. Bruce

    Very poor trolling by Alexx as Matt pointed out.

    Firstly thank you for your coverage and analysis over the last fortnight or so.

    A quck scan of the archives by anyone can see the quite spectacular success you have had with Eurovision the last 2 years. Your semi-final 2 analysis in particular this year I’d also proclaim as a triumph.

    The ssemi final winner and top 3 are still to be revealed and I suspect there may well be additional feathers for your cap.

    I remain confident with Tooji for top 10 and gone in again at 3.3+. I’ll be actively trading tonight and hoping for any other winner than Sweden tbh just for that reason.
    Spain or Serbia would be fine by me 🙂

    Good luck for tonight.

  8. Bruce

    I’d really like to go next year I must add. Hopefully somewhere with less of a time zone difference and a little cooler.

    Madrid or Oslo – lovely jubbly 🙂

  9. Rob

    Hi Bruce,
    Thanks for your comments & Matt too. Have to delete comments like that as it is trolling/abuse and not remotely constructive.
    Think we have to tread carefully with this algorithm – the order will probably not be clear cut and could end up being misread. And if Russia have done something unprecedented on the televote, it simply won’t have accounted for that.
    If there’s lots of Balkan nations announcing late, this might suggest Serbia is close to top of jury vote. If it’s a lot of Scandi nations late, then maybe pointing to Sweden…?

  10. Bruce

    I’m predicting, as I may infer from your comments, that a few novices may well try to pre-empt the result becuase of the voting algorithm. A few fingers may well get burned.

    I hope its not just overconfidence, but I have done so much research into the allies and from my close observation of the in-play markets the last two years, that I feel I’m better placed than most to spot any worthwhile information and bet accordingly.

    We will see 🙂

  11. Matt

    Also on Norway for top ten – Might be good to keep in touch during voting for trade ops? I have eight ‘certs’ for top ten, one pretty confident and then five that may sneak in. Well its an improvement on my 17 of a few hours back!

  12. Rob

    This is the voting order tonight – they have gone public with it:

    Easy to infer various things that could yet prove misleading, because we do not know how the televote will go.

    Potential period of catching up by Sweden in 2nd half. Looks like the 1st juries may favour Serbia/Russia.

    Israel, last to announce, gave Sweden 12pts last year too, & is last to announce. Though Slovenia/Croatia big allies of Serbia, so caution advised.

  13. Matt

    OK – time to nail my top 10 – be interested in your thoughts:

    Sweden (winner)

    Can see Italy, Turkey, Azerbaijan, even Moldova taking two of the spots but pretty happy i think.

  14. Rob

    h2h value as we see it:

    Serbia – 3-5 vs Italy (bwin)

    Serbia – 5-6 vs Russia (WH & Ladbrokes)

    Turkey – 9-4 vs Romania (Ladbrokes) – Turkey better draw, more voting power, so value at the price.

    Greece – 1-2 vs UK (Coral) – is this buying money?

    Greece – 4-5 vs Cyprus (bet365) – given this previously, happy to flag it up again, as this has to be the value bet given Greece’s televote power and better draw.

  15. Rob

    Good luck to you Bruce – and next year’s ESC… based on my Baku experience, an absolute must and invaluable for the serious trader.

    Matt – a very fair list. My opposition to both Russia and Germany is possibly a little extreme but left both out, along with Italy, for consistency, having been against them throughout. Also, always looking for cheap laying angle in top 10/5/4 that comes up trumps, so Russia/Italy possibly fit the bill on that score. Won’t be touching Germany either way.

    Think Turkey will be hard to knock out of the 10. Ditto Greece and Ukraine.

    If anyone wants to stay in touch in-running, will fire up Skype & be on there… might be flat out with trading to keep updating but might be possible – you can reach me @ferrisdayoff

  16. Rob

    ***correction, not Skype, Twitter of course 🙂

  17. fiveleaves

    Hi Rob,
    Isreal has also given Spain 12pts 3x

    In 2003, 2001 and 1995

    So if they want to end with a 12 for the winner…..

    Though tbh this order can be read in so many ways.

  18. Rob

    Great spot, fiveleaves – gives us plenty of hope. Two rows from front in press centre. Amazing atmosphere. Turkey and Russia fans go mental when their acts come on, charging to the front, forming a mob. A lot of Pastora love in this quarter of press centre – a few guys draped in Spanish flags.
    Hope all Spain backers have told all friends & family to get voting for Spain – you are allowed 20 votes per person. Be good to see her get some pts in the UK result.

  19. Jay

    I think Hump has the hump…..well done on h2h you appear to have smashed a full house

  20. Rob

    semi results:

    And the final:

    Well done fiveleaves & co on winning the epic Greece vs Cyprus h2h
    Albania close to an amazing semi win, and huge coup… those pesky grannies have cost me some lay cash tonight but overall another hugely profitable ESC. Hope the same for our readers. It has been a blast 🙂

  21. fiveleaves

    Cheers Rob,
    Yep, bragging rights when it comes to Cyprus/Greece :D, even though it didn’t make the top 10.
    Ivi would have gone close to top 10 from a late draw I reckon, but can’t complain as it turned into an excellent trade, going 1.7 or lower ir.

    Top 10 a great market for me. Estonia, Albania and Azer all nice winners for me. Plus lays of Greece, Iceland & Romania.
    Laying Italy my only loser.

    Cheers again for the great coverage. It sounds like you had a great trip and a profitable one.
    I might join you in Stockholm next year 🙂

  22. Rob

    Thanks to everyone who contributed all their constructive comments and thoughts over the last 2 weeks. Hope you all enjoyed reading the rehearsal coverage as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    Cyprus came in 7th in semi 1, Switzerland and Finland just missed out in 11th and 12th – always suggested Finland would beat Belgium, which trailed in in 17th. Shocked by Denmark’s poor scores. Close but no cigar with Albania e/w – those pesky Babushki.

    Ditto Norway, only sneaking in in 10th in semi 2 with Malta comfortably through in 7th – anyone seen that suitcase I left lying around? Juries must have been very harsh on Tooji. Bulgaria’s Sofi level on pts with Tooji – one of the most non-sensical results of this year imho.

    Slovenia a terrible 17th – another feather in the cap… Croatia comfortably winning that h2h, finishing 12th. Donny managing 3rd place – the power of the pimp slot combined with a blindfold, one-handed cartwheel and air guitar.

    Very pleased for Rona and Albania to achieve 5th place – well deserved and a nice top 10 bet, as highlighted in final post. Surprised by lowly scores of Greece, Romania and Ukraine.

    Humpy was lay of the century – hope you followed the advice on UK finishing position. Lays of Italy/Germany in top 10, didn’t quite come off, but grateful Lob defeated Nina in Big 5 market. Very, very close.

    On reflection, Pastora’s chance probably compromised by juries giving big pts to Rona and, as stated at the time, the mistake by Spanish delegation in choosing the 19 slot. A later draw would have been more impactful; Lob took a little sheen, but also pleased Spain landed top 10 – much deserved.

    Sweden a hugely deserving winner. Stand out tune combined with compelling staging. Remember all those bloggers trying to criticise and saying it had lost its spark? Must have been the only one pointing out it looked great and was getting better with each rehearsal. Hope that helped people stick with Sweden and build a green.

    Will pen full fall-out piece when televote/jury vote split revealed.

    Thanks again to all readers and keep posting your views. Already counting down the days to Stockholm 2013 🙂

  23. Jamie


    Thanks for your efforts over the last couple of weeks. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Baku. I’ve been reading your blog for a while but this is the first time I’ve commented.

    I think that some of the surprises you mention can be explained by thinking about televoters who are fans of particular genres.

    Dance tracks: A dance music fan could choose to vote for Sweden, Norway, Ukraine or Cyprus. Given that Sweden sucked up most of this vote, I don’t think it is too surprising that the other three underperformed many people’s expectations. I didn’t expect Norway to be last but I do think that Sweden’s runaway success accounts for Ukraine missing the top 10.

    Feel good songs: Eurovision likes feel good songs with little musical merit. These songs are unlikely to get significant jury support so are very dependent on televoting. Russia probably sucked up most of this vote (they got points from 40 countries none of whom scored it lower than 3 points – only Switzerland was immune). That left the likes of Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Greece and a couple of others all looking for leftovers. A combination of the grannies charm, Turkey’s diaspora vote and Moldova’s draw probably explains the underperformance of Romania and Greece. I suspect that Greece’s political problems may also have hindered its vote. Greece got very few points from Euro-zone countries. Apart from the usual 12 from Cyprus (who I think are in the Euro), the only other Euro-zone points for Greece were Belgium (2 points) and Germany (1 point).

    Well sung ballads: Ballad fans were well catered for this year. Ex-soviet ballad lovers could vote for Azerbaijan. Nordics could vote for Estonia (or Iceland but they had a bad draw and were probably squeezed by Estonia). Balkans could vote for Serbia or Albania (or Bosnia but they were obviously squeezed too). Central Europeans could vote for Germany. That left Spain with a very uphill battle. If you assume that Spain scored really well with juries then it’s not unreasonable to say that it achieved a significant public vote only in countries where it scored more than 6 points. There were four such countries. Spain’s only real Eurovision friend is Portugal and they gave Spain its only 12 points. The other three countries were Israel (10 points), UK and Switzerland (both 8 points). All four of these countries are outside any significant voting block.

  24. Rob

    Thanks for posting, Jamie. And excellent analysis. You have clearly hit upon an important variable here – competition among songs within the same genre, and then factoring in regional battles.
    Be interesting to see exactly what the juries gave the Babushki. Reckon they weren’t as hard on Russia, as expected.
    The mid-section of the show was by far the strongest and this probably also counted against the likes of Norway, Romania, Denmark and Greece, with Loreen arriving in 17 and blowing away nearly all that had come before.
    It was a tricky year for the value seeker, with Sweden such a short price and any lays of Russia coming with a major risk attached.
    Checking through today, pleased to have availed plenty of 50s Azerbaijan e/w (flagged up in ‘The Joy Of Six’ post on April 24).
    Luckily got on Sweden early at 6, 5 & 9-2, so it was always a nice green. Hope ESC 2012 was profitable for you. Keep reading & posting 🙂

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