Win, Lose Or Draw?

Apr 12, 2016 by

Win, Lose Or Draw?

We now know the running orders of this year’s two semi-finals and meticulous analysis is well underway in trying to decipher who is aided, who is disadvantaged, and the impact this could have on qualification.

Serious Eurovision traders obsess over the finer details of the Contest, no more so than when it comes to the draw, and the qualification trends since the two semi-final format came in in 2008. When you delve into past results, it throws up some intriguing stats. More so if we apply this year’s scoring system. Here are some of the key findings:

Podium places among the last 3 songs performed in the 2 semi-finals has a strong track record dating back to 2008 with 15 podium places out of the total 48 (31%). The precise stats are 9 out of 16 songs finishing in the top 3 from the semi-final pimp slot dating back to 2008, an impressive 56%.

However, when SVT last had a hand in the draw, in 2013, there was only 1 top 3-er among the last 5 songs to perform in each of the semi-finals – Norway drawn 13 of 17 finishing 3rd in semi 2 – and none among the last 4 troubled the podium in either semi, defying the general semi trend which suggests a late running order position is an advantage.

Another headline stat is that at least 4 out of the last 6 songs have qualified in every semi since 2008. However, if we apply this year’s scoring system to previous semi-final results, 2010 would have seen only 3 of the last 6 songs qualify in semi 2, with Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh failing to qualify (drawn 12 of 17), and Sweden’s Anna Bergendahl (drawn 6) qualifying instead.

There were 8 countries in the first half of semi 2 that year (a 17-strong semi that saw an 8/9 split) and 6 would have qualified from that first half under the new scoring system, which would add up to an impressive and unsurpassed 75% qualification rate in the first half of semi 2 that year.

The worst performing pimp slot song in the last 6 years, and only pimp slot song not to qualify for the final since 2010 is Serbia’s Moje 3 with ‘Ljubav je svuda’ in 2013, which finished 11th, only missing out by 6pts. 2013 was of course the first year of producer-decided running orders and the last time SVT had a say.

Eleven out of 12 semi-final qualifiers from the pimp slot remains an impressive strike rate in the last 6 years of the Contest, and going back to 2008, it becomes 14 out of 16 with Netherlands’ The Toppers (17th in semi 2 in 2009) the only other pimp slot non-qualifier since the 2 semi-final format was adopted. Re-visiting this song, it is perhaps easy to see why this one failed. See if you can get to the end:

Among the first 3 songs to perform in the semi-finals, going back to 2008, 20 out of 48 countries have qualified, a qualifying rate of 42%. Back in 2013, only one of the first 3 songs performed in each semi-final qualified that year – Estonia squeezing through in 10th place in semi 1 from the 2 slot. That represents a qualifying rate of 17%, well below the mean.

This compares to 39 out of 48 songs qualifying among the last 3 songs to perform in the semi-finals, going back to 2008, a qualifying rate of 81%. Back in 2013, only 3 out of 6 qualified among the last 3 songs performed in the two semi-finals, representing a qualifying rate of 50%, well below the mean.

With SVT involved again this year, and with its extensive Melodifestivalen experience under its belt, it is interesting to speculate whether it is teed up for similarly stat-defying results like 2013, or whether that was more of an anomaly.

What is clear is, the producer-decided running orders have, in general, succeeded in levelling the playing field more, reducing the advantage of a late running order position, and allowing songs to stand on their own, which for serious ESC traders has made the qualification picture a little more blurred.

Looking ahead to future ESC 2016 coverage, tv betting expert and social media gunslinger Tim B (@Reality_Tim) will be helping out with the Stockholm rehearsal analysis and will make his debut providing his thoughts covering Sunday’s Eurovision concert in London. It is always useful to have a fresh perspective on this year’s songs and performances and Tim’s opinions will be a valuable addition to the site’s Eurovision 2016 analysis.

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  1. Matt

    Great to see Tim on board. Always good value on Twitter and a great judge – even if he is undervaluing Sweden still…

    • Tim B

      Hi Matt, thanks for your kind words. I’m not so much undervaluing Sweden – I absolutely recognise it’s one of the likeliest winners and I will almost certainly keep it green until the end. It’s just that it is not without its potential problems, like literally every other song this year. The challenge for me comes on the jury side. The jury stats from Melodifestivalen were not promising enough to suggest it will definitely win next month. I’m convinced that ‘Heroes’ would’ve beaten ‘If I Were Sorry’ very comfortably with this constituency if they were competing in the same year. Sweden has, however, provided me with probably my best trade of the season. I backed it high, sold it very low and have recently backed it high again. And I’m not sorry!

  2. Tim B

    No one seems to have mentioned Australia in a while. I’m racking my brain to really consider what has a chance of winning, and I’ve come up with a list of seven or eight songs I would have as in contention. To me, Australia seems to be the one song on my list which is the most difficult to dislike. It’s a strong contemporary ballad which I can see scoring well from all over Europe, and with both televoters and juries. ‘Sound of Silence’ is very much this year’s big ballad, with strong similarities to ‘A Million Voices’ and ‘Undo’ from the last two years. The former was the biggest-scoring Runner Up in contest history, and I believe it would’ve won comfortably if it had been entered into this year instead. The latter was very nearly a default sort of winner in 2014, as Sanna would have won if Conchita and The Common Linnets hadn’t have caught on during the Semi-Finals that year.

    ‘Sound of Silence’ is doing very well in various stats as found online including preview shows, YouTube views and OGAE-type polls. The only obvious drawbacks I can think of are, it’s Australia, and Dami Im is Korean. However, this will certainly make her very memorable to viewers at home. It’s also been given a plum draw in Semi-Final 2, and I’d probably make it favourite to win this heat based on its running order and outright price. She also seems like a strong and reliable performer, as she won The X Factor in Australia.

    May I ask what your thoughts are on this song’s chances, Rob?

    • Rob

      I’m not as strong on its chance as you, Tim. A fair few red flags on Oz for me. Not impressed with it as a ballad. Think it lacks the quality of ‘A Million Voices’ and this is Oz, not Russia.

      I find it very repetitive, and while Dami may have a strong vocal, I’m not sure how easy she is to warm to as a performer.

    • I agree that at this stage Australia is one of the bigger ‘unknowns’. But having seen a few performances of Dami Im made me feel a bit less certain about the winning chances for ‘Sound Of Silence’. She can be quite nervous at times. And though she has powerful vocals, I’m not so certain about her connecting well enough with the camera’s.

      Is it the best ballad? No. I think Czech Republic and Serbia have the better, more classic, ballads (‘Sound Of Silence’ to me is more of a modern American pop song). Then I think there’s further competition from the more ‘alternative’ songs from Ukraine and Armenia. I feel a bit more safer backing Czech Republic, Serbia, Armenia and Ukraine for TOP 10 than Australia.

      One last thing: Forget about historical statistics. You have to judge Australia within the current field of 2016 participants. There is no real ‘Russia 2015’ this year. Also, Sweden 2014 was a staging triumph (I backed Sweden 2014 once the staging plan was released in early April 2014), just like Netherlands and Austria the same year. At this stage I’m less certain about a staging triumph for Dami Im.

      Regarding potential winners I try to judge all aspects of the total package that is currently ‘available’. Charisma, telegenic artist, the song (most important), vocals, visuals and lighting (if available from previous live performances). And then I will stick to France, Sweden and Latvia as the best chances to win the whole thing. Perhaps closely followed by Russia. And then I have a few ‘Contenders TOP 10, but no TOP 3’, like Serbia, Ukraine, Armenia, Czech Republic….and perhaps Australia.

  3. Rob

    No doubt a good few jurors don’t pay attention to lyrics but:

    Now my heart awakes to the sound of silence
    And it beats to the sound of silence,
    And it beats to the sound of silence.
    Now my heart awakes to the sound of silence
    And it beats to the sound of silence,
    And it beats to the sound of silence.

    Seriously poor song writing imho. It’s a lazy chorus, vacuous lyrics, it gets very repetitive and Dami doesn’t enunciate well either.

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