Shroud Of Turin

Jan 25, 2022 by

Shroud Of Turin

The draw for the two ESC 2022 semi-finals took place earlier today which always heralds the moment serious traders dust off their historical voting charts and start analyzing this year’s Contest in greater detail.

First impressions are, semi-final 1 looks like being the more competitive affair, partly based on the recent ESC pedigree of the nations involved, but also the very early developments during the current on-season.

It’s always handy for Ireland’s qualification prospects to have the UK voting in its semi which, along with a second half draw, has to be seen as a favourable outcome for The Emerald Isle in what looks the potentially-easier-to-qualify-from, semi-final 2.

France and Italy will vote in semi-final 1; the UK, Spain and Germany in semi-final 2.

As usual at this time of the year, we know some of the chosen artists representing their countries in Turin, but have only heard three of the competing songs so far: Albania, Bulgaria and Czech Republic.

The Betfair Exchange Winner market, however, has already seen plenty of early action. Outside the usual suspects of Sweden, Russia and defending champions, Italy, six nations have captured the imagination of backers.

In Norway, Elsie Bay’s ballad, ‘Death Of Us’, which has echoes of a modern Bond theme, led it to be matched as low as 17. No issues with her live vocal when Elsie performed the track during semi-final 1, but the staging left quite a lot to be desired. Subwoolfer has since moved into odds-on favouritism to win Melodi Grand Prix (1.81 with SBK) but would encounter clear jury concerns if selected for Turin.

Semi-final 1 looks like being the more competitive affair partly based on the recent ESC pedigree of the nations involved, but also the very early developments during the current on-season

Australia Decides won’t happen until February 26 but that hasn’t stopped Australia backers from piling in already on Betfair as low as 14. The initial wave of support arrived on the back of Charley’s entry leaking online, an atmospheric ballad called ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’.

A more recent flurry of Australian support has been driven by Voyager’s track ‘Dreamer’ being released.

We, of course, need to see how these tracks are performed live but this early Australia gamble is probably best described as optimistic in light of the perennial difficulties it encounters to succeed well enough on the televote side.

Finland, matched at 18, has gathered together a highly respectable field for this year’s UMK. It is looking to build on last year’s 6th place with Blind Channel, and The Rasmus are rated odds-on favourites to win UMK (1.65 with SBK).

Should they win it will have the feel of an ESC sequel, and the Finnish rock renaissance continuing this year. Bess’s ‘Ram pam pam’ looks a particularly worthy adversary, but the famous rock band will be a tough nut to crack.

Among the Baltic nations this year, we could see Estonia’s Ott Lepland, 6th at ESC 2012 with ‘Kuula’, win the ticket for Turin with his earnest, native language ballad ‘Aovalguses’. Past ESC representatives Stig Rasta, (who duetted with Elina Born on ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, 7th in ESC 2015) and Elina Nechayeva (8th, ESC 2018) are among Ott’s Eesti Laul competition, along with Stefan, who is SBK’s 3.85 favourite.

In Latvia, another potential ESC returnee, Aminata, 6th at ESC 2015 with ‘Love Injected’, looks a worthy favourite (2.62 with SBK) to win Supernova with her ballad, ‘I’m Letting You Go’.

The release of songs taking part in the third and final heat of Lithuania’s qualifying competition, Pabandomnaujo! also saw a flood of money for Lithuania on the Outright, matched as low as 16. This gamble was generated by Gebrasy’s evocative pop ballad ‘Into Your Arms’.

Monika Liu, who has a much bigger domestic profile in Lithuania, then released ‘Sentimentai’ casting doubt over whether or not Gebrasy will win the ticket to Turin. Those doubts have increased greatly following Saturday’s heat and Monika topping both the jury vote and the televote, and Gebrasy down in fourth.

The early Australia gamble is probably best described as optimistic in light of the perennial difficulties it encounters to succeed well enough on the televote side

After Barbara Pravi’s success last year, Lithuania may be falling into the trap of thinking Monika’s song offers similar authenticity but initial impressions of her performance of ’Sentimentai’ is that it lacks the warmth, charm and class of ‘Voila’ and is much more of an acquired taste. The market has spoken with Lithuania shifting back out to 48. If selecting Monika, Lithuania could end up the first casualty of this year’s credibility drive.

Gebrasy’s live vocal is not the issue. Much like Elsie Bay in Norway, he was let down by lacklustre staging on Saturday. It’s the sort of thing that requires all the bells and whistles of the big ESC stage to fully resonate, and if going down the road of being alone on stage, would benefit from much more dramatic lighting and visual effects.

Spain has bounced back from the ignominy of finishing 24th last year by assembling a decent field for its national qualifier, BenidormFest, which starts tomorrow night. Spain has been matched as low as 17 in the winner market. Rigoberta Bandini looks the clear and obvious televote behemoth here and SBK’s current 2.26 favourite to win BenidormFest.

‘Ay Mama’ could end up making plenty of headlines courtesy of the two women performing the song exposing their breasts on stage, but victory is by no means clear cut with solid competition coming from, among others, Tanxugueiras, Rayden and Unique. The winner is decided by:

1) Expert jury (50%) – heads of delegation, journalists, artists, musicians and/or other professionals, 60% national members and 40% international members.
2) Demoscopic panel (25%) – composed of a statistically-selected sample of the Spanish population.
3) Public voting (25%) – via telephone, SMS and TVE’s official Eurovision app and website.

It has since transpired this is an expert jury consisting of only five people. The two international jurors are Marvin Dietmann, the artistic director who staged Victoria’s entry for Bulgaria last year, and Icelandic HoD Felix Bergsson.

‘Ay Mama’ could end up making plenty of headlines courtesy of the two women performing the song exposing their breasts on stage

Poland has also attracted money on the Betfair Winner market, matched as low as 20. An intriguing national final awaits there involving Daria with ‘Paranoia’, which has been a big domestic hit, and classical singer Krystian Ochman with his track, ‘River’. Ochman won The Voice of Poland in 2020.

While Ochman looks a potential jury magnet, Daria should hold sway on the televote but probably best not to frame this as a two-horse race. Veteran ESC traders will recall what was teed up at the time as a Margaret vs Edyta Gorniak battle in 2016, only for Michal Szpak to win.

Melodifestivalen will, as always, enjoy a huge amount of focus in the coming weeks, getting underway on February 5. The only early observation to make is, a solo female representative is long overdue for Sweden and it could be viewed as a sign of intent Klara Hammarstrom (early SBK favourite at 7) has been granted the pimp slot in the last semi-final. Anna Bergendahl, still seeking to right the wrong of her shock NQ for Sweden back in 2010, will open that last semi-final.

Italy’s Sanremo will get underway next week on February 1. Italy is attracting money on the Outright despite winning ESC last year. Given the vast cost of hosting it may well not be in Rai’s interests to compete for the win this year and the form figures of the host nation and previous year’s winner starting in 2011 (Germany) read: 10th, 4th, 14th, 9th, 26th, 5th, 24th, 26th, 23rd, 23rd.

Italy will need to defy the stats which stretch back to 1992-1994, and Ireland’s three-peat to find the last time a country won ESC back-to-back. Mahmood, ESC 2019 runner-up with ’Soldi’, will return as part of a duet with Blanco. Perhaps this is encouraging Italian backers, along with early press reports hinting at strong songs competing in Sanremo this year, though it generally pays to ignore the opinions of the local media.

Italy will need to defy the stats which stretch back to 1992-1994, and Ireland’s three-peat to find the last time a country won ESC back-to-back

Portugal has a fine selection of songs competing at Festival da Cancao. Given even Salvador Sobral in 2017 was unable to top the televote there, it is a dangerous one to second guess. Aurea and Syro look obvious if somewhat safe contenders but my pick for Turin would be Maro’s beguiling ‘saudade, saudade’. That’s not to say it can take ESC 2022 by storm; it’s just a beautiful song.

Ukraine has also revealed the line-up for this year’s Vidbir. Overlooking Antsya’s Bomba perhaps tells us more about Ukraine’s intentions this year.

The line-ups for Dora in Croatia and EMA in Slovenia are also confirmed, as well as the six contenders taking part in Ireland’s revived Eurosong competition this year. SBK makes Brooke Scullion and Janet Grogan joint favourites at 2.6.

Romania, Moldova, Serbia, France, Germany… you need to stay on your toes at this time of year with details of national qualifiers coming thick and fast.

There is talk of Kirkorov being behind Russia’s entry this year which means Russia will be in it to win it. Trouble is, the ‘Dream Team’ have a tendency to go down the generic, English language pop route which doesn’t look the ideal match with one of the main artists rumoured to be the Russian representative this year, Klava Koka.

The ESC 2022 subscription is now open. If you are looking for expert analysis and seeking to earn some profit trading the Eurovision markets this year, click on the link below (or top left on the home page) to receive exclusive coverage and recommendations via email all the way through to Turin in May.

There is talk of Kirkorov being behind Russia’s entry this year which means Russia will be in it to win it

Covid-permitting, my aim, as always, will be to attend the key rehearsal period in person, live from this year’s venue, PalaOlimpico. Allow me to be your ears and eyes in the press centre assessing this year’s field and pointing you in the direction of the best value investment opportunities.

On-season is about to get into full swing and if you want first notification on the contenders to emerge in the coming weeks, signing up to this year’s subscription is a great way to have your card marked and get on the right side of the price movements on Betfair.




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