Serbs Are Semi 1 Stunners

Mar 28, 2013 by

Serbs Are Semi 1 Stunners

Today, at last, the semi-final running orders were revealed and they can be viewed here. How do they compare to the orders we advised? In semi 1 we got 5 slots correct: Slovenia in 3, Netherlands in 8 & the sequence of Moldova, Ireland, Cyprus in 12, 13 and 14. In the 2nd semi, we got 5 correct too in calling Latvia the show opener in 1, Macedonia in 3, Finland in 5, Bulgaria in 7, and Greece in 9. Let’s hope our betting analysis is better this year than our guesswork surrounding the draw.

We are somewhat surprised SVT has decided to go with a sequence of Denmark, Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands in the first half of semi 1. The latter 3 are arguably the 3 standout female vocalists in this semi, and these 4 nations take up the positions as the 4 market leaders to win this semi.

Do they potentially take something away from each other? The songs offer enough contrast but such an emphasis on solo females in this section could take the shine off one or two of them. It will perhaps do more harm to the 3 earlier solo females in Austria, Estonia and Slovenia.

In semi 2, arguably the strongest section comes towards the end in the form of Norway, Albania and Georgia. SVT has done a decent job in trying to ensure all songs have the chance to distinguish themselves but there are clear winners and losers still. Certainly Swiss and Romanian qualification hopes have risen on the back of their great draws in 16 and 17 in semi 2, and that also goes for Cyprus and Belgium positioned at 14 and 15 in semi 1.

Since the double semi-final format has been utilised at the ESC, dating back to 2008, it has thrown up a very interesting stat regarding the last and last but one songs to be performed. These are the respective finishing positions of the songs that performed in semi 1 (penultimate and last), and semi 2 (penultimate and last):

2008: 3rd, 1st, 10th, 2nd
2009: 6th, 3rd, 3rd, 17th
2010: 9th, 3rd, 3rd, 1st
2011: 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 8th
2012: 5th, 6th, 6th, 3rd

That is 5 out of 10 penultimate songs getting onto the podium, and 7 out of 10 closing songs getting onto the podium, including 3 semi-final winners. We have long considered a late semi-final draw to be a potential advantage at the ESC, especially when combined with an uptempo song and the nation in question possessing big voting strength in its semi. In 2010, this threw up Turkey (advised here at 10-1 e/w), winner of semi 2 from the pimp slot, and in 2011, it gave us Greece, (advised here at an amazing 50-1 e/w), winner of semi 1 from the pimp slot.

The one that fits the trend this year is Serbia in semi 1. Based on historical voting patterns, Serbia has the biggest voting strength in this semi, and Moje 3 have been handed the pimp slot. Preceded by a couple of slower tunes, ‘Ljubav je svuda’ certainly has the potential to rouse the audience and make an impact. Another plus for Serbia is so little Balkan competition.

With Denmark, Russia, Ukraine and Netherlands potentially impinging one another, and compromised by their early running order positions, there could be space for a surprise among the top 3. Mirna, Nevena and Sara are going to have to bring their ‘A’ game on stage and produce the goods vocally. This is by no means a given but at least they have a USP in this semi as the only girl group singing an uptempo pop tune.

Given Donny Montell was able to get on the podium for Lithuania in 2012 from the pimp slot, with a pretty unremarkable song (bar his good looks, the blindfold & single-handed cartwheel), and Lithuania had nowhere near Serbia‘s voting strength this year, 25-1 with Boylesports and SportingBet certainly looks great value and we are happy to make this our first semi-final recommendation for an e/w bet this year.

What are your initial thoughts on the 2 semi-final running orders? Who are the winners and who are the losers in your view? We will be back with more semi-final betting analysis soon. In the meantime, please do drop us a line below.

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  1. Boki

    First of all I have to admit I’m usually too critical about Serbian entries. However this year’s entry is so bad in my view that I seriously thought of going against Serbian Q. Now I’m gutted with the draw, there goes my surprise non Q. Still, despite the voting strength which is undoubtly there, I don’t see it in the top3 no matter what (rather on bottom 3 jury score).

  2. Tim B

    I’m absolutely delighted with the draw! Was jumping for joy when I read it earlier. I’m an early layer of San Marino and Austria among others…It also makes some of the ‘maybes’ – like Estonia – into ‘nos’ etc. Serbia e/w is a great tip at 26.0. Don’t expect them to win the semi at all, but on value grounds it’s worth a shot because of their enormous voting power here which isn’t going to be split. Think they can easily nick third place. Boki, I see where you’re coming from in terms of the juries but surely they won’t punish it too harshly??? The vocals are excellent and the girls have chemistry on stage. Are you sure you’re not extra disappointed because it’s your home country and Moje 3 are kind of embarrassing after the fabulous Zeljko last year? Furthermore, they’re three of the most attractive girls in the competition which can’t be bad for their televote as long as they get the outfits right. In terms of semi final 1 winner, I think the juries will pull Russia over the finish line. I was half expecting a Belarus pimp slot but I was pleased to see Serbia get it as a) Serbia E/W is much better value and b) this gives producers the chance to give Belarus the pimp slot in the final, should they qualify and be drawn in the second half.

    Norway or Georgia look in a great position to potentially win semi final 2. Also delighted that San Marino are slot 2, Bulgaria have a decent slot and Romania have the pimp slot. Will be very interesting indeed if Cezar can get through to the final. I would recommend they embrace the madness of the song and Cezar becomes a bit less serious.

    Bring on the high street prices 😀

    • Boki

      Yes Tim, as I said I’m extra sensitive to Serbian entries for the reasons you mention and I didn’t think Zeki was fabulous (although his top10 was my biggest bet last year).
      I don’t know if they are going to change something in the staging and outfits but presently they try to look sexy but very cheap, choreography is amateurish, red sexy one can’t sing, white can sing but not being sexy and third one somewhere in between :).
      I really believe juries will score them low simply because there are at least 12 more friendly songs and competition from Belarus looks much more professional.

  3. Rob

    Yes, it will be good & long overdue when we see sf qualification prices across the board. Despite the smaller sized semis this year, they are shaping up to be competitive enough.

    The juries may well drag Serbia down a little due to the new scoring system but if it’s well performed it can be pushing for jury top 10 in this semi. 25s was too big & value e/w – the stats, as outlined, are very much in its favour, & when voting strength & pimp slot align such nations can be very hard to shift from top 3.

    Who gave Lithuania any chance of top 3 last year, & it was 10th in jury scoring? Greece was 9th on jury scoring in 2011 & much like Greece that year, Serbia is in pole position to be pushing for top spot on the televote.

    • Boki

      Some fair points there Rob. Btw I still don’t get how Greece ends up 1st with 1st and 9th while Azer 2nd with two times 2nd. Also Donny didn’t change his position with much lower jury score. I suspect the new system will change that a little but it remains to be seen.
      Well I’ll have to buy a hat in order to have something to eat if they finish top3 even on televote only 🙂

  4. Jamie

    The draw hasn’t helped me much in identifying good bets and I’m going to await live rehearsals for more information.

    I still think that there are too many similar songs in semi final one and that semi final two is very weak. I laughed when I saw that the producer selected big finish to semi final two is … Romania! I presume that they avoided giving Norway the pimp spot so they could not be accused of favouritism. However, the choice of the absurd Romanian song doesn’t say much for the alternative choices.

    I like your statistic about the success of the pimp spot in recent semi finals. However, I will wait to make sure that they can sing live before placing any bets on Serbia – Jedward failed to make the podium twice from the pimp spot. Nevertheless, it’s a good tip. Of course, the same pimp spot logic applies to Romania in semi final two, and it has less to beat.

    If Serbia were to make the podium then that would imply that at least two of the four market favourites in semi final one would not make the podium, so it might also be useful to think about which ones would miss out. Again (and despite my poor personal opinion of Ukraine), I would expect the live performance to be the decisive factor.

    I make a lot of use of data analysis in thinking about Eurovision but it’s sometimes difficult to know what to do with this information. For example, you quote an example of something which has happened seven times out of ten semi finals. Here is another one. In those same ten semi finals, the song with draw two has qualified seven times. Only two draws have a higher qualification record and it is the best performing single figure draw. Draw two’s performance can’t be put down to the high quality of the songs involved either as they haven’t been particularly outstanding. Only a couple have been good enough to make the top ten in the final.

    The problem with that statistic is that, although it is true, no-one believes it. One of your commenters jumped for joy when he found out that Estonia and San Marino had been drawn two. Even, Daniel from Sofabet said that San Marino would be disappointed with this draw. That leaves a betting dilemma. If seven out of ten is significant, should you back draw two because of its record, or should you lay draw two because everyone else thinks it is a poor draw and will probably push the price out. On the other hand, if seven out of ten is not significant, then that would suggest some caution both with my draw two statistic and with your pimp spot statistic.

  5. Rob

    Top post, Jamie. Was just looking back over the last 3 years as only followed ESC seriously since 2010.
    Drawn 2 in 2010 – Russia and Armenia. Both with big voting power.
    Drawn 2 in 2011 – Norway (DNQ) Stella Mwangi, Austria – Nadine Beiler. A quality solo female ballad – the stuff juries lap up.
    Drawn 2 in 2012 – Iceland (qualified in 8th), Macedonia (qualified in 9th). Macedonia had a lot of voting power, 3rd on my figures in its semi last year.

    My observation would be it is easier to overcome an early draw like 2 if the nation in question has big voting power, or is very jury friendly – or, at least, this was the case in the past – the new voting system may change things. But I do not think a draw of 2 has anything special going for it.

    San Marino certainly fits into the category of very jury friendly in my view. The way nations perform in their respective semis can differ wildly from how they end up doing in the final – draw and jury strength or weakness again playing a part in changing things in the final.

    The difference with Romania is that it doesn’t have nearly the voting strength Serbia enjoys in semi 1 – vying for about 5th on my calculations.

    You’re absolutely right in thinking about who might miss out on top 3 in building a case for a perceived outsider like Serbia in semi 1. This forms part of the thought process but was not expanded on in the above post.

    My view is, it doesn’t do any of the big 4 in semi 1 any favours to follow one another. Ukraine & Russia are also chasing the same sort of vote being solo females from the east. This could potentially compromise both.

    Netherlands will be loved by juries in my view, but there are questions surrounding the other 3 & how highly they are rated by juries in my view. A strong televote looks assured for Russia but again, not a given for either Denmark or Ukraine.

    Your last par really sums up what my entire approach to the ESC is based on – backing or laying according to value.

    Tim B got some lays away on San Marino at around 1.5. I’d agree, at that price SM was a lay. But as SM now heads out to odds against, it is heading towards a value back in my view. Ahead of seeing rehearsals I think it is a likely qualifier.

    There are certainly a good few ‘borderline qualifiers’ this year & it is going to take a good deal of working out which will get through & which won’t, but my backs & lays will be dictated to a large extent by price.

    If you are able to trade well & manage to back high & lay low you are always in position to lock in a profit.

  6. Rob

    sorry, 3rd par should read:

    ‘draw and voting strength or weakness again playing a part in changing things in the final.’

  7. Rob

    Bwin has qualification prices up. Would advise caution at this very early stage. Far better to wait until we see qualification prices across the high st.

    • Boki

      Thanks Rob, it’s always nice to see how they are thinking at this stage. First judgements are deceptive but for them also as much as for us so there could be an early value here. For example, Iceland is marked by most of us as a NQ, what is he doing under evens (I’m quite limited @Bwin but took this and few others already).

  8. mykal

    this is my personal fav this year and i hope it does really well…i don’t speak a word of the Serbian language but i have read the english lyrics.

    it reminds me of ABBA for some reason, perhaps it’s the fantastic harmonies which reminds me of Agnetha & Frida in their prime.

    all three girls have great voices especially the tall one (Sara), who also has the most wonderfully long sexy legs 🙂

    Serbia probably has little chance of winning thou, the main reason being it’s not in english.

    good luck.

    • Rob

      Hi mykal. Having flagged up the 25-1 e/w Serbia, am very much hoping Serbia still manages a top 3 finish. It has big voting strength and the best slot in the running order. 2nd rehearsal certainly looked better than 1st rehearsal so it’s fingers crossed ahead of tomorrow night’s jury performance, and Tuesday night’s live tv performance in semi 1.

      • mykal

        hello Rob, i hope all is well with you and your family…got a poorly mum, mum-in-law and our dog’s not to clever at 14 either…i’m thinking of getting a big red cross tatooed on my forehead and wearing a white coat lol.
        right back on topic,i love the Serbian entry, Norway, Ukraine and Russia…Denmark will obviously be around to spoil the party for me no doubt 🙁 it’s not a bad entry but it just does not appeal to me personally (my daughter likes it thou).
        My main bet is Serbia @ 4/1 “top Balkan” with StanJames,got 220 @betfair to win, will also be backing Serbia top 3,5 & 10.
        Norway are my only other win bet.
        A lay of Greece for top10 i just can’t resist, an appaulingly poor entry in my opinion.
        there you go Rob, i wish you all the very best with your financial investments(unless you’ve backed Denmark)…”bring it on”.
        ps,Rob any chance you “copy/paste” this and chuck it on the main eurovision thread on betfair please ?
        got banned as funkypunk by some nice person on the “specials” last year 🙁

        • mykal

          Thank you so very much…i hope you enjoy eurovision and make “loads a money” too.
          Take care and god bless.
          Regards Mike.

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