Waiting Game

Apr 16, 2021 by

Waiting Game

As things currently stand, it looks like rehearsals will get underway in Rotterdam on Saturday May 8. Prior to that, there will be 2 potential market shifters – the Spanish online pre-party on April 24, and the eurojury result, the full reveal of which is scheduled for May 7, on the eve of day 1 of rehearsals.

It is worth remembering, those involved in eurojury are assessing the official videos only, and the online presentation of songs during PrePartyES will also be far removed from what we see and hear on the live stage in Rotterdam, but these details probably won’t stop the Outright being swayed.

Artists so far confirmed to be taking part in the Spanish pre-party event are: Montaigne, Efendi, Hooverphonic, Victoria, Albina, Barbara Pravi, Jendrik, Lesley Roy, Samanta Tina, Destiny, Rafal, The Black Mamba, Vasil, Senhit, Hurricane, Go_A, Anxhela Peristeri, Elena Tsagrinou, Roxen, Vincent Bueno, Daði Freyr, James Newman, The Roop and Uku Suviste.

Only in the last few days, Barbara Pravi informed there will be staging changes with the French entry (no Eiffel Tower, more focus on her) which saw its price drift by a point, and the early OGAE results have made some small waves. The Outright is a fragile, skittish entity which will continue to react to tiny fragments of information prior to the real business in Rotterdam.

We now know the running order of the two semi-finals. Semi 1 looks the stronger of the two semi-finals this year. Cyprus, despite drawing 2nd half, has shuffled down to 8th in the running order which is effectively last in the first half.

Another observation would be, Belarus’s withdrawal is a blow to both Russia and Ukraine’s guaranteed points in the bag. Twelve countries are being traded odds-on on Betfair to qualify in semi-final 1. Something’s got to give, and that is while treating all of Slovenia, Ireland, North Macedonia and Australia as NQs which is by no means a given.

We have 8 uptempo solo female efforts in this semi and the spidey senses are screaming there are likely to be casualties among them. Pre-rehearsals, it is a difficult call to make. There will be those which are well-executed live and others that don’t cut it.

Ireland’s Lesley Roy has informed she will be alone on stage but there are hints of a clever staging concept for ‘Maps’ by the same guy who did Mans Zelmerlow’s winning stage show in 2015.

We have 8 uptempo solo female efforts in this semi and the spidey senses are screaming there are likely to be casualties among them

Malta is Outright favourite and the EBU couldn’t have given it a stronger endorsement by handing it the pimp slot. We know the televote boost potential of the pimp which, in theory, makes Malta a stronger proposition to take the semi-final win.

It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with semi winners usually given favourable treatment in the grand final. Norway bucked the trend when winning semi-final 2 in 2018 from the opening slot, and being placed 7th in the running order in the grand final.

On numbers alone, semi-final 2 (17) looks tougher to qualify from than semi-final 1 (16) but in reality the qualification bar seems a lot lower in semi 2. Again, it all looks extremely tight pre-rehearsals and live performance/staging is going to be the key differentiator in propelling some and damaging others.

Selecting Denmark’s Fyr & Flamme as the semi-final 2 closer looks a surprising decision by the EBU but makes more sense when you look down the list of alternatives with only really Finland also fitting the bill as a potential closer.

On numbers alone, semi-final 2 (17) looks tougher to qualify from than semi-final 1 (16) but in reality the qualification bar seems a lot lower in semi 2

Giving San Marino the opening slot looks a vote of confidence from the EBU it thinks it can qualify from there, while the possibility of Flo Rida joining Senhit on stage remains in doubt.

It looks like Greece may have come up with an interesting staging concept with ‘something never seen before’ on the ESC stage being promised for ‘Last Dance’. To his credit, Fokas Evagellinos has come up with innovative visuals in the past which have helped propel entries.

Switzerland, much like Malta in semi-final 1, couldn’t have been given more of a leg up by the EBU in being granted the 16 slot. It remains to be seen what Sacha Jean-Baptiste has come up with to help ‘Tout l’Universe’ spark to life live.

Giving San Marino the opening slot looks a vote of confidence from the EBU it thinks it can qualify from there

The difficulty you have as an ESC trader when confronted by an overall sub-standard semi-final like semi 2 this year is, lack of confidence in taking on perceived weak entries. With this in mind, a watching brief looks the wisest policy until we see first rehearsals.

Thanks to Gav from ESCTips (@ESCtips_Gavster) for inviting me onto his podcast. Together with him and Panos (@Panos_fluffy), we shoot the breeze talking about semi-final 1 below. Keep an eye out for semi-final 2 thoughts next week.

Media coverage of Rotterdam rehearsals is potentially going to be disjointed and compromised this year, much like the entire competition. Under the current ’Scenario B’, the bigger proportion of accredited press (two thirds) will follow rehearsals ‘virtually’ which means a live feed being watched and listened to on laptop screens for the most part.

The EBU strictly polices the official, watermarked live rehearsal feed in the press centre and the spectre of the feed leaking on social media looms large given the ease with which those working remotely from home will be able to share their screens.

Switzerland, much like Malta in semi-final 1, couldn’t have been given more of a leg up by the EBU in being granted the 16 slot

The possibility of positive Covid tests returned among artists or members of the assorted delegations descending on Rotterdam could also yet see ‘live on-tape’ pre-recorded performances having to be shown in some instances. Already, doubt is being cast over whether or not Montaigne will be able to travel from Australia.

On a personal level, a last minute decision will need to be made regarding attendance in Rotterdam this year due to the ever-changing travel restrictions in place and the possibility of returning a positive PCR test which would scupper the trip.

Come what may, on-site in the press centre in Rotterdam or covering the event virtually, the next ESC post to appear will be following day 1 of rehearsals, based on the assumption it remains a ‘Scenario B’ ESC this year.


  1. Guildo Horn Forever

    My 2021 Eurovision just started the other day with watching the song recap video embedded above, so I’m fresh to this ESC season, or perhaps a bit late to the pre-party.

    Following on from that, one YouTube music video led to another and then another, and I ended up writing a 2,500+ word essay on my idea of this year’s ESC underrated songs. I then realised I was falling back into my terribly indulgent Sofabet ways and so scrapped posting that monstrosity of an analysis!

    Instead, I’ll mention that the two entries I love and am obsessed with this year are France’s Barbara with Voilá, and Ukraine’s Go_A with Shum. Find myself wishing they were higher in the odds and thus, so far anyway, am reluctant to back either of them. The song that’s grown on me more than any other is the Swiss one. It sounds like the best James Bond song you’ve never heard! It’s looks hot competition at the head of the market. The clear first four in the betting look v strong to me.

    Have to report being astounded that my first Eurovision bet this year has been on Germany! To be Top 10. I’ve performed a rapid 180 degree turn on its chances, given my initial groaning reaction to it. I was planning to wait before backing it, but it seems to be increasingly popular in the Top 10 betting markets and I felt obliged to nab the top price left before that went too. I suppose I’m banking on an amazing televote for it as it’s difficult to imagine much in way of jury recognition for an entry with all the musical sophistication of a children’s song.

    Have my eye on a couple of other outsiders for the Top 10, but have yet to back either of them. Looking to back them on the exchange but so far seem to have mistimed / botched getting the odds I want for them.

    My number 1 Eurovision guilty pleasure this year is Norway’s Fallen Angel! The staging! The costumes! The shades! The headband! The ton of bling! One assumes he was ejected from Heaven for his crimes against fashion and taste. Yet, I’m still singing along every time to the hooky, catchy, cheesy chorus! He has a such pleasant tone to his voice.

    Number 2 guilty pleasure is watching Cyprus’s outstanding Lady Gaga tribute act and marvelling at how she’s combined Bad Romance and Alejandro into one song.

    And the best fun to be had from watching a Eurovision music video is trying to catch all the TV and Film references in the Czech Republic’s omaga. Recommended.

  2. neomichael

    Hi Guys , I have to admit that this year the pre-rehearsals waiting game has been quite tough to follow. Maybe due to the extra time in home or the lack of entertainment, every now and then, betting “opportunities” have been popping around trying in vain to keep my positions intact. Looking forward to hear your insights Rob in the following days.
    From my part, the following bets looks to me somehow promising for the time being:
    Top10 – Chez Republic, Cyprus , Germany 🙂
    Top5 – France
    Q – Chez Republic, Estonia
    NQ – San marino, Russia
    Having also an eye on Romania and Ukraine for top10 during rehearsals.

    Looking forward to hearing your insights Rob in the following days.
    Nice to be here again. Hope you all a profitable ESC 2021!

  3. Guildo Horn Forever

    Although Germany is my main Top 10 bet, to a lesser extent I added Ireland, and to a lesser extent again I added Austria.

    I like Lesley, the Irish singer, and song but don’t love either, although she should strip fit enough to enthusiastically deliver her song, given her music video appears to show her enjoying a boot camp weekend in an Irish Forest! I think the song title and main lyrics could lend themselves to interesting staging concept – which Rob has mentioned is already being promised.

    And I have multiple reservations about the Austrian package, including some about the singer. By the sounds of it, he’s no Cesár Sampson:


    Nevertheless, the large odds compensate and I’m absolutely fascinated by the song message, and am moved by Vincent’s heartfelt, intense delivery. In a way, I suppose my bet on this is a way of hedging my bets on the German song, as I consider the German message and the Austrian message to be in an opposition.

  4. Guildo Horn Forever

    Doh! Feel such a dummy! From watching the Amen music video, I had presumed that Austria’s Vincent was voicing his bitter grief at an uncaring or (actually) non-existent God – when actually he’s comparing a relationship break-up to a “funeral”. Jeez.

    A plot twist (!) that also completely changes my perception of the entry’s prospects. From a message that I believed would find resonance, I now perceive the message as lacking taste! No more bets for me, now. Instead, I’ll switch to enjoying Eurovision as a fan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *