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What Goes Around…

May 14, 2016 by

What Goes Around…

It has been a difficult year and a rollercoaster year trading the ESC 2016 Outright market on Betfair. We have seen some amazing plunges on the likes of Poland, when we thought Margaret would be its artist in Stockholm, France has mysteriously been matched for large sums at close to 2 on Betfair, and was another plunge trading as low as 4 pre-rehearsals after initially being matched at over 100.

Malta’s price has remained stubbornly short for long periods, Latvia and Australia were also backed into single figures at various times, before lengthening in price (only for Australia to shorten again), while Bulgaria and Italy were also the subject of gambles pre-rehearsals only to drift out. It is hard to believe Germany was also trading at 14 in the lead up to its national final.

The bookmakers have made things much harder for Eurovision punters this year, with qualification odds shorter than ever, ditto their top 10 prices, and a distinct lack of e/w prices (first 3 places) offered on the 2 semi-finals. Well done to William Hill and Coral bucking the trend there.

It has been pretty gutless stuff among other bookmakers, as has been the move today to only offer e/w first three places, and change place terms from a quarter the odds to a fifth the odds, first four places.

Leading into tonight, the market appears to have settled into thinking Russia and Australia will fight it out at the top of the leaderboard. SVT has given Dami Im strong backing throughout the Contest, not only awarding her the best possible running order position in the first half of semi 2, but then giving her the best position in the first half of the Grand Final in slot 13.

This sort of favouritism isn’t exactly in the spirit of what us Brits like to call ‘fair play’ but as a cold-blooded punter you have to latch onto these things as possible signs. They have also conveniently placed an ad break prior to Dami singing, with the hosts giving her a nice build up. And perhaps having a South Korean-born singer win ESC would be ideal for brand Eurovision as it looks to extend the franchise into the Asia-Pacific region.

While ‘Sound Of Silence’ is by no means the strongest ballad in this year’s competition and Dami isn’t the best vocalist (and is enhanced by clever use of her backing singers), it potentially hits the sweet spot of easy accessibility, impact and perceived quality. In that respect, Australia this year is reminiscent of Sanna Nielsen for Sweden in 2014.

Russia’s Sergey was certainly not at his best last night – he seemed a little flat in parts – and he may have opened the door for Dami. The presentation comes across as all too synthetic and Russia could easily fall down on the jury side of the equation. If it does, it will likely trade bigger than its current Back price on Betfair of 2 (at time of posting) during and after the jury reveal.

You need to ask yourself which countries are going to prove to be jury bait this evening because you will likely see their top 10 odds reduce significantly during and after the jury reveal, and also come in on the Outright. That could certainly see both Australia and Ukraine shorten though we are entering unchartered territory this evening.

Amir produced his best yet last night for France. They have improved the sound mix for him and he navigated the song well enough. France could yet have a say among the top 4 but there is also room for it to fall down the rankings, possibly suffering at the hands of jurors.

It feels slightly disadvantaged from the 11 slot compared to Australia in 13 but Amir could go down well with televoters tonight, and perhaps more importantly, UK punters (with Betfair being UK-centric) given Graham Norton has declared it his favourite song this year and he may well mention this during tonight’s final.

Sweden’s Frans could be a little too low key and forgotten from the 9 slot. The spoken word nature of the song might also see a good few jurors scoring him poorly with ‘vocal capacity’ being one of the judging criteria they are supposed to abide by.

Some jurors and televoters might also be punitive on Sweden tonight and feel it is someone else’s turn. Sweden could yet manage a top 4 finish but it is important to pick up on potential failings among the top 4 in the betting if you are going to uncover some betting value elsewhere, and there is a clear case to be made for Sweden potentially under-performing.

Serbia is a quietly confident call to achieve a top 10 finish this evening. Sanja excelled last night in front of the juries, nailing the extremely tough high note that troubled her in the semi-final. Serbia is top of the chart in terms of historical voting strength among this year’s finalists, wielding even more power than Russia, and it should get a very healthy Balkan vote. There may even be scope for it to achieve a top 5 finish this year, with one or both of Sweden and France potentially dropping down.

Armenia’s Iveta probably wasn’t quite at her very best performing for Armenia last night but the song still has big impact as the show closer. It is a visually compelling and sonically impactful leftfield song worthy of a high ranking among juries and the Armenian diaspora should ensure a top 10 finish. Given its pimp slot this could further boost Armenia’s televote and it certainly has the potential to stake a claim for a top 4/5 finish.

Despite the 3 slot Netherlands has strong top 10 claims. Douwe Bob performed ‘Slow Down’ very well last night, improvising some new lyrics, and mouthing the words ‘I Love You’ while interacting well with the audience. The same can be said for Hovi Star in 7 who was at his best for Israel. There is a strong sense he eclipses Francesca singing for Italy before him which may see Italy miss out on a top 10 finish this year.

Poli Geneva performed very well for Bulgaria and this could get in contention for a top 10 finish. The same cannot be said for Croatia’s Nina who put in the sort of performance we heard throughout rehearsals – extremely off-key in parts. Had she performed like this in front of the semi-final juries Croatia would not be in the final.

Latvia remains a difficult one to assess. Justs was very good last night but with Ukraine following him he might be in danger of suffering as a result. Jamala was captivating once more and gave such a passionate performance it came across as an incredibly powerful and intense 3 minutes of musical artistry.

Her impassioned scream as the tree illuminates behind her in the last minute is THE moment of Eurovision 2016. If this is not topping the jury vote there is something seriously wrong. Sonically, vocally, lyrically, and don’t forget this is a song Jamala herself wrote, this really should be surpassing Australia on the jury side of things. But it might not come to pass because sometimes at Eurovision high art gets neglected.

As for some of the other countries, Austria’s Zoe sounded a little bit off which may have scuppered her top 10 hopes, while Georgia was excellent, with no technical glitches, raising hopes of a surprise top 10 finish for Nika and the Young Georgian Lolitaz. 10-1 with Coral and Boylesports certainly looks worth a small investment.

Belgium felt long forgotten and terminally average in slot 1 last night, Laura did not sing the song well and this could be one to consider taking on for a top 10 finish. Azerbaijan’s Samra was awful in the afternoon rehearsal only for her to magically sound better in front of the juries, Cyprus was under-par and Malta was its usual mediocre self. But never bet on Azerbaijan or Malta under-performing on the leaderboard.

Lithuania and Spain could both go quite well on the televote, though Barei’s backing singers were off-key once more last night. Of the 2 Lithuania possibly has the better chance of a higher finish. Hungary’s Freddie wasn’t his best last night, and nor was Jamie-Lee for Germany while Poland’s Michal and Gabriela for Czech Rep were both excellent but the latter will very likely struggle from the never-winning 2 slot.

Push come to shove, there remains a nagging doubt the Australian song is not quite strong enough to win and in hope, rather than expectation, that Ukraine comfortably won last night’s jury vote, and perhaps allowing heart to rule head, Ukraine is the call here for the win.

Potentially in Ukraine’s favour is coverage in today’s Western European media regarding the song’s relevance to Crimea. And mention of this by national presenters this evening could yet provide a telling boost to Ukraine’s televote in the west.

As for the UK, Joe & Jake were not at their best last night, possibly suffering due to nerves, and despite offering some hope during rehearsals of a respectable finish, the worry now is the UK could find itself falling down the leaderboard once more and end up finishing 20th or lower.

My far from confident finishing order in what feels a tricky year is:

1. Ukraine
2. Australia
3. Russia
4. Armenia
5. Serbia
6. France
7. Sweden
8. The Netherlands
9. Israel
10. Georgia

Tim B’s betting wisdom for the final is to back Belgium for Top 10, lay Malta for Top 10 and look to lay Bulgaria Top 10 in-running if it shortens. He thinks it may well be one UK punters latch onto as something with a beat. And a hearty thanks to Tim B for all his help during the second week in Stockholm.

It’s going to be a frenetic Grand Final for live in-running traders given the new scoring sequence. Best of luck holding your nerve and coming away from ESC 2016 in profit.

Win, lose or draw you are all in for a treat tonight as it really is an exceptional show. Petra and Mans are fantastic hosts and perform some brilliant skits, with Justin Timberlake upping Eurovision’s brand equity as this year’s interval act.

Please let us know your predictions below and more importantly, where you see the betting value among the plethora of ESC markets on offer.

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35 Comments

  1. Thanks very much for all the coverage Rob.

    Good luck to you and all followers tonight.

    Paul

  2. Tim B

    1. Australia
    2. Ukraine
    3. Russia
    4. Sweden

  3. 1 Russia
    2 Ukraine
    3 Australia
    4 Sweden

  4. Don Wimble

    …great stuff Rob – good to hear you must be back safe and sound – I truly hope you are right with your final 1-10 – best of luck!

  5. Matt

    Great stuff as usual Rob – and Tim.

    My top ten –

    Australia
    Russia
    Sweden
    Ukraine
    Armenia
    France
    Netherlands
    Italy
    Belgium
    Georgia

    See you on the other side

  6. Hi Rob,

    Big thanks for yours and Tim’s articles over the season. Having a fresh perspective come in part way through the rehearsals definitely proved to be quite valuable, and your own coverage has been insightful as ever.

    I totally understand your edging Ukraine over the line compared to Australia. The song is bland, but then so is most other stuff in the charts these days. I don’t think Ukraine is going to win over enough televoters to make it unless Jamala absolutely runs away with the jury vote and manages the televoting top 4. Tough call, that.

    I personally would rather a warmer, more inspiring, happier song win it this year as well, but they’ve all fallen short in this line up and Dami is the last woman standing in that respect. I like my alternative bolder music just as much as you do, but even then I’ll take Justs, Iveta or the Young Georgian Lolitaz over Jamala any day of the week. That Georgia top 10 bet looks interesting, but a bit of a coin toss. I think it’s the best executed act this year.

    I’m not going to be doing much in running as I’m low on funds but I have a bit of room to lay a few of the current outsiders if punters latch onto them.

    Thanks again Rob (and Tim!) and all the best tonight.

    • Rob

      Thanks Ben. It’s a tricky year to say the least with the new points reveal likely to create plenty of uncertainty and market fluctuations.

      Luckily, I’ve traded the Outright so well this year I have all the potential contenders nicely green. I’m still hopeful of a Georgian punt developing which would suit the big green I have on it. Enjoy the show tonight. It is brilliant 🙂

  7. Guildo Horn Forever

    Just a quick question, Rob…

    I’m thinking that if any song is likely to be the beneficiary of tele-vote multi-voting it’s likely to be Ukraine.

    Could that be a significant factor in Ukraine’s finishing position?

    • Rob

      It’s a great point, Guildo. Ukraine could get a lot of people seriously motivated to vote for it this year.

      People are allowed to vote 20 times, but with different devices, who’s to say the most committed voters don’t vote many more times.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Thanks for the answer and information, Rob. I’ve been all over Ukraine for a long while (25s EW etc), only stopped backing when they recently hit 4s, but I’m thinking there’s some juicy EW prices currently on offer for them again, now.

        Most expert commentators seem to rank Jamala as finishing in the Top 4, and even those who predict it finishing 3rd or 4th concede the UKraine entrant is very, very difficult to rule out for the win.

        Surely, if any song-performance is going to attract passionate multi-voting it will be Jamala’s?

        So long as it’s divisiveness is restricted to tele-voting (and not the jury vote) then the multi-voting of its passionate supporters will make up for (or perhaps surpass?) the votes it misses out from due to it’s lack of across-the-board consensus appeal?

  8. James

    Hi Rob. I see that Ladbrokes have added a market on which country will receive the most points from the jury voting. Ukraine are currently 9/2, which given your analysis, looks a decent price.

    • Rob

      It looks like Oz is the main danger there, James. Can you dutch them for a profit either way?

      • James

        Hi Rob. Yes, Australia is currently 5/6, so dutching looks the way to go. Russia are 10/3 to win the jury vote!!!

    • Just picked up some 11/2 in the shop James. Worth a small flutter.

  9. Montell

    My Top 10 prediction for tonight:
    01. Australia
    02. Russia
    03. Ukraine
    04. Armenia
    05. Sweden
    06. France
    07. Israel
    08. Netherlands
    09. Belgium
    10. Serbia

  10. Katie F

    UK being given a forgettable slot again! I bet 10/3 on UK being in bottom 5!

  11. Katie F

    Armenia look likely for a top 10 slot- pimp slot and high backing

  12. Katie F

    Just bet £50 on Australia few hours ago!

  13. We’ll played Rob 🙂

  14. Jay

    You little ripper Rob! Ukraine all the way. Was being matched at 50s and 80s halfway through the jury vote. Incredible the value available.

  15. fiveleaves

    Great stuff Rob.
    Amazing night and amazing coverage and recommendations throughout.
    I’m sure you had a very good night
    Poli 4th the icing on the cake 😀

  16. Rob

    Thanks guys. A great night. Bulgaria 4th landing the big-priced ew too. And imagine what Poli could have done if she wasn’t dressed like the Duracell Bunny. Now for some sleep… lots of sleep 🙂

  17. James

    Hi Rob & Tim. I would like to extend my thanks to you both for your impressive analysis over the Eurovision season. Left to my own devices, I certainly would not have been backing Ukraine as a winner, as it was so different from other recent winning songs.

    With your recommendations, I ended up making a very healthy profit. Germany finishing in last place, was the cherry on the cake!

    • Rob

      Thanks James. Delighted Ukraine won not only from a financial perspective. It deserved to win this year imho. A high quality song on every level, powerfully delivered by Jamala and beautifully staged.

      Nice investment on Germany last place 🙂

  18. Boki

    I’m delighted with the result Rob because she stole my heart back in Stockholm and despite my head told me to cover with Oz, Jamala remained my biggest green by far. As I said to everyone after the rehearsals, see you in Kiev 😉

    • Rob

      Thanks Boki. Exactly the same for me. She offered that something extra. Pleased the new scoring system enabled Jamala to come out on top. Roll on Kiev 2017 – hope to see you there 🙂

    • Tim B

      Well done to you Boki, Rob, me and everyone else. I remember saying to you when you left the other day that I will see you next year in Ukraine….turns out that’s where we’re going!!! Fabulous. We will all be eating like kings (and queen) over there. No more Subway or McDonald’s for us, that’s for sure.

      So it turns out that 1944 has become an international mega hit, even reaching number 50 in the UK. What jumps out at me though is that it’s number 9 in Turkey, so clearly Turkish diaspora across Europe supported Ukraine, just as I suspected they might.

  19. apleximus

    Hi Rob, thanks a lot for your great coverage. I was strongly in favour of Ukraine winning, from a personal and financial point of view, and was delighted when it jumped ahead of Australia at the end. It’s hard to be too bitter with Jamala having delivered the win, yet I find the jury vote truly astonishing. Australia getting 320 ahead of Ukraine’s 211 is just a mystery, not to mention the great fun but amateurish Belgium actually beating Ukraine in the semi final jury vote. To me, it was the best song in the competition by a landslide, brilliantly sung and beautifully staged. I’m glad that televoters embraced it to a much greater extent than Sound of Silence.

    Also, any explanation for Serbia’s very poor showing. I lost a fair bit backing it for top 5 and top 10, thought it was a great song, well performed by Sanja, jury friendly and would have been appreciated by all of Serbia’s voting friends. Turns out it only squeaked through in 10th. Any ideas about what could have gone wrong there?

    And huge congratulations for picking the winner here, when Ukraine had been on the drift ever since Thursday’s second semi. Thoroughly well-deserved for Jamala.

    • Rob

      Hi apleximus. Thanks for your post. I echo your bafflement regarding Belgium earning more jury pts than Ukraine in the semi-final. Truly shocked by Belgium’s success overall. The song was so lightweight and I never warmed to it despite Laura’s energetic performance and the choreo but credit to Tim B there seeing its appeal.

      As for Serbia, my nagging concern throughout was Sanja’s delivery and the red and black, extremely dark staging. Maybe alienating for jurors and televoters alike.

      She sang it really well in front of the juries in the Grand Final yet only received 35pts. That beggars belief regardless of the spiky delivery. Her live vocal was superb.

      I reckon if they had staged it something like 2012 – simple, delicate, classy with instrumentation on the stage in the form of a pianist and violinists, it would have been embraced.

      I guess Poli grabbed the bulk of the Balkan vote. My fear there was, the very cheap staging seeing it suffer at the hands of jurors but unlike Sanja it seems they were totally sold by Poli’s performance.

      Still a nice result having jumped on Bulgaria at 100-1 down to 50-1 e/w first 4 places early on because I rated the song highly. I was just so disappointed by the staging.

  20. Montell

    I also think Ukraine is a worthy winner and Australia would have been too. What surprises me is the number of dislikes Ukraine got on YouTube. Basically every video has more dislikes than likes. Maybe it’s because this kind of song has never won Eurovision before.

  21. James

    Interesting to see that a close result would have been even closer if a Danish judge had been paying attention!

    http://eurovisionworld.com/?esc=danish-jury-member-gave-wrong-points

    • Rob

      I’ve often wondered if a good few jurors make the same mistake. The ranking system is somewhat confusing. I think they should revert to jurors picking their top 10 & awarding them 12, 10, 8, 7… etc. It would avoid any confusion & prevent entries suffering due to 1 juror ranking it well down.

      • I’m not so sure if I would like that Rob. With a full TOP 26 ranking you basically force every juror to be detailed with every entrant. You force every judge to really….judge all 26 entries.

        With a TOP 10 ranking you basically facilitate a slightly more televoting-esque way of judging, in that one juror can more easily ‘throw away’ 16 other songs. It’s therefore a slightly more careless way of voting.

        • Rob

          We have seen again political rankings among jurors, often collectively done though they are seemingly allowed to get away with it if it is not as blatant as rank 26, 26, 26, 26, 26. That is very carefully done, in fact, and very unsatisfactory.

          A top 10 selection is surely a much more positive way of judging the songs, and keeps things simple. People can find a top 10. When it comes to ranking 26 songs it becomes far too arbitrary.