Time For Daniel To Leaf?

May 19, 2015 by

Time For Daniel To Leaf?

It’s the live tv semi-final tonight on BBC3 in the UK, starting at 8pm. You are in for a treat and some potential Outright market-shifting performances.

Last night’s semi 1 jury rehearsal re-asserted my view that Russia and Estonia are the 2 stand-out nations in this semi.

A far more engaged Stig and a teary-eyed Elina sold ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ with incredibly powerful emotion while Polina offered up a vocal masterclass with impressive staging helping entice viewers into her epic power ballad.

It would come as a surprise if the semi win doesn’t go to one of these 2. At current available prices, Estonia looks the value at 3-1 on the high street and bigger prices available on Betfair at time of posting this article. Having previously backed Russia at 5-2 and 9-4 my strategy is to dutch these 2 nations for the win, with Russia the slightly bigger potential profit of the 2.

The battle for very likely 3rd place in this semi looks a keenly fought one. The 2 I have in mind as most likely to get on the podium now are Romania and Greece. Georgia has a chance too from the pimp slot but Nina wasn’t able to bring her very best to her evocatively-staged ‘Warrior’ last night due to illness which slightly dampens confidence.

Romania has a nice late running order position and an impressive semi-final record at recent ESCs. Since 2010 it reads: 4th, 4th, 3rd, 5th, 2nd. This is a song that directly appeals to its diaspora – supporting children who have been left alone by their parents working abroad and the clever staging hammers home this message.

It is also the sort of worthy rock/pop song juries should respect and Voltaj produced a typically professional performance last night. Maria Elena for Greece was similarly impressive powering out ‘One Last Breath’. We know juries usually purr over a high quality solo ballad and the Greek song is another well-staged triumph.

One to go up in my estimation following last night’s performance is Belgium. Loic is clearly a big-time artist as he performed ‘Rhythm Inside’ with great gusto last night and it looked a lot more coherent compared to earlier rehearsal efforts. The concern remains it might be a little too avant-garde to really fly in the competition.

As for most likely non-qualifiers, the one I have been happy to lay at much cheaper prices than currently available on Betfair is FYR Macedonia. The inclusion of Blackstreet felt like a massive step backwards for the song and has done nothing to elevate ‘Autumn Leaves’ which was absolutely fine in its official video form.

Daniel wasn’t at his best last night in front of the juries and following the outstanding Greece and Estonia songs FYR Macedonia really looks up against it. As does Netherlands. Trijntje tried her best last night but there was no escaping the feeling it is among this semi-final’s weakest songs.

My instinct says Serbia, too, will struggle to qualify. There are some frankly bizarre elements in its staging and the uptempo last minute when Bojana’s vocal teetered on the edge of screeching last night could give further ammunition for jurors to punish her.

Finland’s fate in this semi remains a bit more of a mystery and much will depend on sympathy levels among televoters and jury members alike but there are at least 12 songs I can make a stronger case for in this semi.

Armenia, on voting power in this semi alone, has a very strong case for qualification. Despite the early draw its another diaspora-pleasing tune and Genealogy did a professional job with it last night. The staging really helps bring it to life in the places where the song flags. It will be one to keep an eye on in-running because you can imagine UK gamblers reaction being, ‘How the hell can this bizarre tune be trading at a Back price of 1.37 on Betfair?’

So the 7 I anticipate qualifying tonight in order of certainty are: Russia, Estonia, Romania, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Belgium.

The most intrigue surrounds the next 3 qualifiers and a potential battle between Moldova, Hungary, Belarus, Denmark and Albania for those remaining slots, while unable to completely discount Finland.

UK viewers will love Moldova for its sheer Eurovision fun. To give Eduard his dues he performed this really well last night and does a good job holding his vocal together despite being incredibly active on stage. Moldova, like Belarus, is aided by having a good few voting friends in this semi, but will juries punish it for being too trashy and dated?

Hungary felt like a beautifully calm oasis last night arriving as it does after Serbia’s Bojana and Boggie should receive some jury love for her secure and haunting vocal.

An especially animated Maimuna helped to bring ‘Time’ to life last night, and unlike a few others the repetitive nature of this song’s chorus is actually part of its mind-lodging televoter appeal for me, but Belarus, like Hungary, remains a risky borderliner.

Ditto Denmark. There was nothing wrong with Anti Social Media’s performance of this last night but possibly compared to the more worthy Romanian song that follows 2 songs later, this McBusted effort comes across as somewhat powder puff and flimsy which possibly lands it just on the wrong side of the qualifier list.

As for Albania, concerns Elhaida would struggle with this last night were firmly quashed as she rose to the occasion, negotiating the last minute well and performing it with passion. But it has to remain another borderliner I would rather leave alone in terms of trading. There is a concern Elhaida is possibly eclipsed in this semi by stronger female solo performances by Polina, Maria Elena, Boggie and Nina.

It is knife-edge stuff and mostly gut instinct but I am calling Belarus and Hungary qualifiers, which leaves Moldova and Albania fighting for the final qualification spot. Moldova has the stronger recent qualification record reaching the final 6 times in the last 8 years whereas Albania has only made it through 4 times in the same period.

The amazing policewoman is sure to be a hit with red-blooded males back in the UK, and while it feels like a betrayal to wave her goodbye it has to be Elhaida over Eduard given her better running order and simply based on song quality.

So, as a reminder, and purely for bragging rights my 10 are: Russia, Estonia, Romania, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Belgium, Hungary, Belarus, Albania.

How do you see it panning out? Please feel free to post your predictions below.


  1. Tim B


    Good luck 🙂

  2. Montell

    My NQ list in order of confidence:
    1. Finland
    2. Moldova
    3. Serbia
    4. Hungary
    5. Macedonia
    6. Albania

    I still think Netherlands could qualify because I had good impression when I first heard the song. I think the song is sincere and memorable.

    I think Belarus or Netherlands will take 10th place.

    Have a good time watching Eurovision, fellows.

  3. Matt

    Brilliant coverage Rob as always and loads of good tips on the subscription service. Here are my ten:


    Finland for Albania (based on that clip going round) was the hardest call. Was it that bad mate or is the feed acting up?

    Enjoy tonight

  4. Martin F.

    Hey there back in Vienna! Here’s my take on tonight’s value (or not, as the case may be)


    Hope you have a profitable night!

    • Rob

      So you are enjoying the rest of ESC 2015 in relaxing surrounds while we are all still in the mad house trading like stockbrokers during Black Monday. Just hoping my FYR Macedonia fire sale comes in.

      Nice portfolio there. Belgium could well get on the podium. Enjoy the shows ahead 🙂

  5. neomichael

    Here is my ranking for tonight. Although i don’t fill confident for 9-12 places.

    1 Estonia
    2 Russia
    3 Romania
    4 Serbia
    5 Armenia
    6 Greece
    7 Hungary
    8 Belgium
    9 Georgia
    10 Belarus
    11 Albania
    12 Netherlands
    13 Moldova
    14 FYR Macedonia
    15 Denmark
    16 Finland

    Good luck everybody! Hope fyrom goes home too!

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