Luna Eclipse?

May 7, 2024 by

Luna Eclipse?

Now in the second year of the media rehearsal blackout it still feels a strange new trading world at Eurovision. Yesterday’s first full run throughs of semi one provided a chance, finally, to actually see and hear entries in full on a TV monitor.

The new 100% televote semi-final era is a less demanding puzzle to solve for traders. Hence, there is more chance the qualification markets on the Betfair Exchange are operating with maximum efficiency. However, this could be re-named the semi of NQ risk because you can easily identify flaws in so many of the entries, and the chance for successful cheap lays should never be spurned.

In the first half we face the precedent of all seven entries potentially qualifying. There’s nothing to say it cannot happen, the market believes it will happen, and a weak second half tantalisingly tees up this prospect.

Cyprus, as the classic impactful, professionally presented, uptempo opener, is the type of thing you instinctively think should qualify but is it all a bit too lightweight?

Silia brings a Melodifestivalen-type performance and her Aussie roots at least mean Cyprus should earn decent points from those two nations but fans certainly haven’t got on board with Cyprus this season and 1.3 looks potential lay territory.

The new 100% televote semi-final era is a less demanding puzzle to solve for traders. Hence, there is more chance the qualification markets on the Betfair Exchange are operating with maximum efficiency

Serbia also looks in danger, largely relying on its voting friends helping to get it across the line. ’Ramonda’ is a classy Balkan ballad, well performed and presented, but the notoriously tricky two slot could provide a trap door to NQ.

The Polish diaspora is wheeled out as the argument why Luna will qualify but the live performance and the staging for this leave a lot to be desired. Luna will seriously test the strength of Polish loyalty, with ‘The Tower’ also memory-holed between Ukraine and Croatia.

The equally poor Gromee feat Lukas Meijer would have crept through in tenth back in 2018, if it had been televote-only. This may well end up earning a similar result, can’t be a confident Q call and the value resides on the lay side too at 1.3.

Then there’s Ireland, the latest market plunge, and an entry that has built up enormous fan fervour. They’ve done a terrific job making Bambi Thug leap out of the TV screen like the evil spirit in The Ring.

The track is plainly lacking, an acquired taste and Bambi’s vocal during last night’s jury run wasn’t great, but the arresting visuals and striking live performance will surely see Ireland qualify for the first time since 2018. And after it qualifies expect to see an even bigger snowballing Irish gamble happen.

It will be interesting to monitor the response to Croatia being seen for the first time this evening. It looks the sort of entry that should go down well with UK viewers and British reaction can have a significant impact on markets. But the penny appears to have finally dropped this is the most likely televote topper and is in pole position to win this year’s Contest.

The Polish diaspora is wheeled out as the argument why Luna will qualify but the live performance and the staging for this leave a lot to be desired

Following Baby Lasagna, the next section, taking place in an alternate ESC universe, would be featuring Bashar Murad for Iceland, Ryk for Germany and Sara Siipola for Finland. Will these national qualifier powers that be never learn? For all the talk of it being an exciting, unpredictable ESC this year, the addition of these three entries would have made things even more interesting, and competitive across all markets.

Instead, we have a somewhat limp Iceland, Germany’s answer to Rag ’n’ Bone Man, and the lamentable Windows95man with ‘No Rules!’, a vulgar effort playing a role in this year’s competition not dissimilar to Let 3 for Croatia last year.

Finland is considered a secure qualifying prospect, but the ‘fun’ feels extremely tenuous here and it comes across more like Finland trolling this year’s Contest.

Slovenia, Australia and Portugal are all different shades of vulnerable to NQ. Raiven cavorting around the stage in her bodysuit doesn’t feel nearly enough. Her live vocal is excellent, just a shame about the song. Slovenia has drifted from odds-on qualifier status to 3.1 and you could argue that now makes it a value Back proposition.

Australia has attracted vast sums of odds-on money to qualify in the last few months but risks heavily missing the mark with the Aboriginal messaging. You can make the case for it being an uplifting and celebratory interlude but it does come across like an interval act, and it’s hard to be confident Europeans will feel compelled enough to vote for this.

Portugal is nothing special as a native language ballad as well as Iolanda performs ‘Grito’. The low qualification bar and handy late running order help but good luck to those backing this at 1.18 which looks far too short.

Portugal is largely bereft of voting friends in this semi. Mimicat got through in ninth place last year and that had a lot more USP working for it and was something of a darling among the fan community. Its 12pts came from Switzerland and France who are absent from this semi. Seven from Netherlands, also absent.

Australia has attracted vast sums of odds-on money to qualify in the last few months but risks heavily missing the mark with the Aboriginal messaging

This all means that Azerbaijan and Moldova are both worth consideration for a surprise Q. Azerbaijan has some epicness working for it, and the costume choices look like a call to arms for the diaspora to get behind it, which it will need, as much as for UK viewers they will conjure recollections of Blake’s 7. It has Ukraine, Moldova and Poland, and back in the day it knew how to earn itself points in countries with a low televoting threshold.

Moldova has been trading over 6 and that looks a value Back. Natalia Barbu is all alone on stage but the visuals are excellent, as is her live performance, and a woman in a floaty white dress playing violin has clear USP. The artistry really stands out at this point in the running order, following the crude Finland and the plastic, overly-manufactured Sweden.

Some might try and make a similar case for Iceland, which is fair enough, but it just seems far too bland and forgettable as a midtempo pop song.

It’s a marginal call across all these entries, and 8th to 12th looks like being an incredibly close run affair. Both Slovenia and Australia miss the cut, and the knife also comes down on Poland.

Croatia looks a solid looking odds-on fav to take the semi win and Ukraine is clearly its main televote threat. The Top 3 market is one of the more interesting semi one markets to trade given the intriguing battle for the third podium spot.

Ireland has been matched as low as 1.6 and could go very short live in-running, whereas the previously odds-on Finland has drifted like a barge. A case can also be made for both Lithuania and Luxembourg.

The Top 3 market is one of the more interesting semi one markets to trade given the intriguing battle for the third podium spot

Please do share your thoughts below on semi one and where you’re placing your chips. Good luck to everyone tonight.

Rob’s ten Qs – Croatia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Ireland, Finland, Cyprus, Serbia, Portugal, Moldova.

Matt’s thoughts:

Tonight’s semi is definitely worth switching over from the Champions League for. Fifteen songs, with only one dud, the SVT production, Petra Mede hosting, and Edward af Sillen’s script are a heady cocktail for a Tuesday night.

The show starts as it means to go on. Seven songs, all with a great chance of qualifying, and all matched at 1.5 or lower on the Exchange. Add in Olly camping it up for the UK and it’s a bold introduction to the Eurovision 2024 season.

The show inevitably lags from that point, but with Sweden and Germany showcasing and the return of Luxembourg, it remains one of the better semis we have seen in this era of Eurovision.

OK, so who qualifies? I have ruled out Azerbaijan (uncompetitive) and Iceland (Jet2Holidays), which leaves 13 to consider. Of these, 8 are almost locks – Croatia (clear winner), Ukraine, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus. This leaves Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia and Australia fighting it out for the last two envelopes.

Moldova is obvious value at 6s and I only decided to leave out as Rob has already made its case. This stands out very well in the running order and feels better than it is – especially when surrounded by the madness elsewhere.

Poland and Serbia have the diaspora but are both hamstrung by the running order and in Poland’s case, the clunky staging. For me, only one can make it and I’m happy to go with the one later in the evening. Poland also has the advantage of feeling light and reassuring after the heavy, dark staging of the first few acts.

That leaves me one of Slovenia and Australia. Slovenia is beautifully sung but the staging doesn’t match the intent and while the latter is kitsch, confused and utterly dated, it does play into the hands of the casual voter looking for some Keiino-style fun.

To recap, these are my ten qualifiers: Croatia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Finland, Ireland, Cyprus, Poland, Portugal, Australia.

Be lucky and enjoy the show.

9 Comments

  1. Montell

    I have the same qualifiers as I had before rehearsals started.
    Cyprus
    Lithuania
    Ireland
    Ukraine
    Poland
    Croatia
    Finland
    Australia
    Portugal
    Luxembourg

    Serbia is just too early in the draw and not memorable enough. As for Poland, I expect it to be poor, but as you said, if Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer managed to finish 10th in 2018, then Luna should too. Azerbaijan’s song feels too flat and boring. When they don’t cheat, they really struggle with these types of songs. Moldova reminds me of Hungary 2019, which was way better and still finished 14th with televoting. Regarding Slovenia, I wouldn’t be surprised if it qualified, but I think the overall impression of the song and the artist is that it’s too cold. Australia’s song is just catchy. Yes, it does remind me of Netherlands 2021, but this one is more fun and has a good draw too so should be sailing to the final.

  2. My ten in expected order:

    Croatia
    Ukraine
    Lithuania
    Ireland
    Finland
    Portugal
    Poland
    Cyprus
    Luxembourg
    Serbia

    I think it’s a toss up between Serbia and Australia for the tenth spot. The second place start for Serbia is, historically, more of a problem in a 26 song final when you get to vote ninety minutes after you hear the song. In semis, draw 2 has been less of an issue. The song takes a full minute to get going, but the chorus in very memorable and will benefit from the recap snippets. Australia needed a lot more energy and ethnic uptempo feelgoodness in this one. It may well sneak in, but I hope it doesn’t.
    If all first seven make it through, we will have to begin a new chapter in the annals of ESC semi finals history.

  3. neomichael

    Hi Rob, Mat and rest of you guys, nice being here as always.
    These is my prediction for tonight, based mainly on polls :
    1 Croatia
    2 Ukraine
    3 Ireland
    4 Lithuania
    5 Portugal
    6 Finland
    7 Luxembourg
    8 Cyprus
    9 Slovenia
    10 Serbia
    ———————–
    11 Australia
    12 Poland
    13 Azerbaijan
    14 Iceland
    15 Moldova

    Don’t know about you but recent years have started realizing that the qualification market as well as the final winning market are very well crowded/saturated and the odds seem to reflect more and more the actual probability. So I am trying to avoid putting to much on these market and search for better opportunities in other markets of the final such as forecast 1-2, top4/5/10 back or lay, tele winner, last position, combinations. From your side, in which sections/markets historically you have better ROI?

    • Rob

      Hi Michael. Agree with what you say. In an ideal world we need bigger-sized semi-finals and a return to a 50/50 voting format.

      You have a decision to make – either try and trade the price movements on each nation’s Q price shrewdly across the season, & lock in small profits. Or decide to take one or two on and obviously risk a loss. I’ve never been a big backer with the sfs, ie, sticking 5k down on a 1.2 shot type of trader. I’d much rather try and successfully lay something very short.

      Across the semis my best profits have been finding something at a big price e/w like The Common Linnets as a backer, and laying one heavily at 1.3 to Q like Maria Olafs, Iceland 2015.

      Also love the side markets for trying to grab value and it is still out there, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to sniff everything out. The Winner market has always proved the most solid profit earner for me. If you trade it shrewdly over the 5 month period, especially a year like this one, you can put yourself in a great position.

      • neomichael

        I guess this makes more sense if betfair is accessible from your country. Otherwise trying to cash out or bet additional money on bookers for the opposite scenario reduce potential profit quite a bit. Not to mention that the bookmakers recent year have set strict limits and many manual approval processes. Good luck everybody tonight!!

        • Rob

          Well done Michael on calling all 10 qualifiers correctly. You’re the only ESC trader I’ve seen who managed that. I don’t know what the tenfold would have paid with Paddy Power, but if you are able this is a bookmaker that allows such multiples.

  4. Demi

    Is anyone else wondering if the lineup of guest acts for the first semifinal (featuring previous runner-ups) compared to guest acts for the second semifinal, (consiting of previous winners), is subtly suggesting that this year’s winner should come from the second semifinal?

    • Rob

      I love a bit of rabbit hole thinking, Demi, and this one’s right up there. Hadn’t noticed this tbh. I was wondering if the montages for each country pre-performance were either positive or negative, ie, I thought Molitva was good for Serbia through association – pay attention viewers, you’re about to see and hear something of quality being the subliminal message…?

      Johnny Logan performed last night but I get your point about a lot of the others.

      • Demi

        hahaha I know this is way out there but rather amusing to think about!

        Been wondering the same about postcards too, just saw from dress rehearsals today that Denmark left out “Only Teardrops” from theirs, possibly to avoid Sand being seen as massive downgrade ..

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