Mersey Beat

Feb 2, 2023 by

Mersey Beat

Tuesday evening saw this year’s semi-final allocation draw, broadcast live from Liverpool’s St George’s Hall, and an occasion that always marks the official start of Eurovision season, signifying that it’s time to dust off those historical voting charts, and try and figure out who might have one foot in the grand final already.

This is the first time the UK has hosted Eurovision since 1998, stepping in on behalf of last year’s winner Ukraine, given the ongoing war there. You could already see in that presentation on Tuesday, the BBC is not going to shy away from reminding viewers about the conflict.

We have 37 nations taking part this year which is the smallest field since 2014, and from a trading perspective that’s a little disappointing because semi-finals consisting of only 15 and 16 countries respectively is likely to make qualification less competitive.

This year we need to get our heads around the fact the semi-finals will be decided by televote-only. No jury vote, and a ‘Rest of the World’ televote to boot, acting as the equivalent of an extra participating nation.

We have 37 nations taking part this year which is the smallest field since 2014

Running order is going to be hugely significant now in the two semi-finals. This provides an interesting guide as to how the semi-final results would have changed had it been televote-only, going back to 2010.

Initial impressions of this year’s semi-finals: despite only have 15 countries competing, semi 1 is already shaping up to be stronger than semi 2. Croatia, which has endured 4 consecutive NQs, and has only qualified twice in the last ten Contests, is firmly up against it again drawn in the first half of semi 1.

Georgia, which has NQ-ed in the last 5 Contests, has better prospects drawn in the 2nd half of semi 2. Australia, which has often required a generous leg up courtesy of the juries, will be pleased to have landed a 2nd half draw in semi 2, under this new televote-only format.

We only know 3 entries so far – Ukraine, Albania and Belgium – and they’re a pretty underwhelming bunch. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Ukraine trading as current 5.8 favourite to win on the Betfair Exchange, for reasons outside of music, which is the frustrating situation ESC traders are confronted by once more.

Running order is going to be hugely significant now in the two semi-finals

It is a case of having to tread carefully between now and the grand final on May 13, and monitoring the latest news, as it will largely be the actions of Vladimir Putin, and a potential escalation in the war, that could yet have a significant impact on Ukraine’s chance of winning again.

We know quite a few artist names set to represent competing countries this year, and some national qualifiers are already underway, with the much-vaunted Melodifestivalen commencing in Sweden on Saturday, which will see the return of ESC 2012 winner Loreen, taking part in heat 4 with her track ’Tattoo’.

Ireland’s ‘Eurosong’ final takes place tomorrow evening, we have the Spanish national final, ‘Benidorm Fest’, on Saturday, along with Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix. The action is already coming thick and fast, as on-season ratchets up to maximum velocity in the coming weeks.

The ESC 2023 subscription is open, and you can find a link top left on the home page as well as below. The running total profit of +824pts since the start of 2014 hopefully tells its own story. My intention, as per usual, will be to attend rehearsals in Liverpool and provide analysis from the press centre.

Who is set to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Kalush Orchestra with ‘Stefania’? As always, it will be an intriguing puzzle waiting to be solved, with the accompanying volatile price movements on the Betfair Exchange there to be taken advantage of, and all part of the fun of the ESC trading rollercoaster.

Keep an eye out for a new Eurovision betting podcast being hosted by Patrick Flynn and please do give it a follow on Twitter (@EuroBetPod). I (@ferrisdayoff @entertainodds) will be joining Patrick (@patrickjfl) and TellyStats Dan Hughes (@TellyStats) to discuss all things Eurovision betting-related in the coming weeks.

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