Let The Games Begin

Jan 30, 2018 by

Let The Games Begin

It has been a very lively, early Eurovision 2018 season, and it’s only going to get busier in the weeks to come. Current Betfair Exchange favourite is Sweden, seemingly by default.

We know the Swedes take Eurovision very seriously – Christer Bjorkman on record as saying he is desperate for the country to level Ireland’s 7 ESC wins – and the focus each year on Melodifestivalen ensures Sweden trades at an artificially low price prior to the gradual song reveal across the 4 semi-finals.

Second favourite on Betfair at time of posting is Bulgaria which has finished 4th and 2nd in the last two ESCs and is seeking a first win. It seems just about as keen as anyone to land the prestigious music prize, with focus groups drafted in to help with this year’s selection process.

The chosen song is being teased as a risky choice, created for the stage, a track that is both commercial and contemporary, with the performers of the song also already selected internally.

Russia is 3rd favourite, mainly due to being the voting superpower in the east. Wheelchair-bound Yulia Samoylova, denied entry to the Kiev-hosted Contest last year, has been confirmed as this year’s Russian artist, though totally trusting information emanating from the TPTB in Moscow has long proven to be an unwise strategy.

Estonia is also proving popular with ESC early birds. This is probably down to the operatic La Forza sung by Elina Netsajeva competing for the Eesti Laul win this year.

Australia, which never turns up for anything without desperately wanting to win, and ideally likes to rub English noses in it at the same time (the less said about the recent Ashes series, the better) has selected Jessica Mauboy as its artist. The song could well be uptempo in the RnB mould. That’s not been stated on the record; that’s pure speculation by yours truly.

Another solo female artist popular with Betfair punters is clearly Finland’s Saara Aalto. She has three possible songs on the table revealed over three successive Fridays starting on February 9. UK X Factor viewers might imagine she will be best off performing an extravagant cabaret number.

Bigger-priced contenders lurking further down the list include The Netherlands which will rely on one half of 2014 runners-up The Common Linnets, in the shape of Waylon to perform its song, currently slated for a March 3 reveal.

So far we only know the songs from Albania, France, Czech Republic and Spain. Among those four, Spain has caused the most ripples in the Outright, significantly matched as low as 11 on Betfair.

Among other ESC 2018 headlines, 2009 winner Alex Rybak is back trying to represent Norway again, and Whigfield (aka, Sannie Charlotte Carlson), fondly remembered for her 1993 hit ’Saturday Night’, is trying out for Denmark.

In Belarus it looks teed up there for Alekseev to win, despite his song ‘Forever’ being released prior to the EBU’s September 1 deadline. While in Moldova DoReDoS with ‘My Lucky Day’ looks in the box-seat for the national final win, given Philipp Kirkorov’s involvement as a composer.

Armenia’s Depi Evratesil looks an intriguing scrap this year likely between Asmik Shiroyan, Kamil Show, Sevak Khanagyan and Tamar Kaprelian.

Cyprus, meanwhile, has chosen Eleni Fouriera as its artist with the Alex P-penned ‘Fuego’ and Sacha Jean-Baptiste has been drafted in as staging supremo. Sometimes, as good as the potential ingredients sound, it doesn’t live up to expectations, as Greece backers last year will testify.

Melodifestivalen gets underway with semi 1 this Saturday. Many will be most eager to hear Margaret’s song in semi 2 the following week. This is the Margaret who led to one of the big ante-post ESC gambles when trying to represent Poland two years ago, only for her track ‘Cool Me Down’ to be turned over by Michael Szpak.

As for the UK, a fair degree of optimism has been voiced regarding the 6 songs on offer this year, but that optimism certainly isn’t shared here. Even if it is a marginally stronger list than last year, it’s a very low bar. These are songs that conjure adjectives such as generic, middle-of-the-road, unoriginal and uninspiring.

And is the cupboard really that bare the UK can only call upon The Voice and BGT rejects to sing these songs? These are cookie cutter efforts written by committee, lyrically bereft and risk-free. Under the BBC’s stewardship the UK continues to go down the wrong path. Yet again this is homogenised fare destined to fail.

The only song with a hint of spark about it, and conjuring memories of Margaret’s ‘Cool Me Down’ is ‘Legends’. The clear concern, however, is how this is going to sound live, put in the hands of the inexperienced Asanda. Based on YouTube videos, you certainly couldn’t be confident.

The two most accomplished live performers could well turn out to be Jaz and SuRie. Just a shame both of their songs are so forgettable. Whichever of these 2 gets the later slot and more positive reception from the jury members may have a shot at turning over the current 6-4 favourite with Coral/Ladbrokes if ‘Legends’ doesn’t come up to scratch live. But going into the Brighton Dome-hosted national final, which is live on Wednesday next week on BBC2 at 7.30pm, you could not be confident how it will play out.

The semi-final allocation draw was made yesterday, and can be found here. Based on what we know in terms of likely songs, and despite semi 2 having more countries with a 100% qualification record, semi 1 looks potentially the more competitive heat of the two, and not just because there are 19 countries battling for the 10 qualifying spots as opposed to 18 in semi 2.

The ESC 2018 subscription is now officially open. It is being kept at the same price as the last two years. For £60 you will receive exclusive betting recommendations via email during the key two-week rehearsal period in Lisbon. Allow me to be your ears and eyes, assessing the songs, bringing you all the key news from my front row seat in the press centre, and pinpointing the value investments across the vast array of ESC markets.

You will initially receive the traditional ante-post analysis of where the Outright betting value lies once we know all 43 songs heading to Lisbon and the bookmakers offer some e/w 4 places betting on the event. In the last two years Ukraine (25-1) and Portugal (16-1) were advised to subscribers pre-rehearsals.

A pre-rehearsals analysis of the 2 semi-finals will also follow assuming the bookmakers put their head above the parapet and price up the semis before we arrive in Lisbon.

In the last 3 years, the subscribed portfolio of ESC investments has achieved profits of:

2015 – +90pts (ROI 36%)
2016 – +54.75pts (ROI 30%)
2017 – +72.5pts (ROI 49%)

Grab a piece of the ESC 2018 betting action by clicking on the link below:


  1. squall

    Best of luck, Rob! Fully expect another great result from your portfolio, and can warmly recommend the profitable subscription offer to anyone thinking about betting on Eurovision.

    • Rob

      Thanks squall. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for another profitable ESC this year 🙂

  2. Rob

    Some rehearsal footage of the 6 UK artists ahead of Wednesday’s NF:


  3. Matt

    Just to reiterate Squall, this is the best £60 you will ever spend. Rob over-delivers every year and not only do you get profitable betting advice, but a daily dose of lucid insight into the backstage madness that is Eurovision. Thoroughly recommend to all ESC traders – big and small.

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