Saturday 23 May 2015

Haiku #13

Soon we will know who'll
be the best in the Euro
vision Song Contest

Final prediction - IIIIIH!

We're getting closer! :-o Both semifinals out of the way and without any massive shocks or surprises, really, will the final be as easy to predict? I don't really think so, but I do find it easier than last year. Which probably means I'll be waaaay off with most of it...

My own favourites are still Azerbaijan and Norway, and both gave me goosebumps in the semi, but I wasn't as absolutely wowed by them as I wished I had been. Maybe it was just drafty...? Some others made a good impression though, and regardless of whether I actually like them or not, I thought Estonia, Hungary, Israel and Latvia worked better on screen than I'd expected.

So anyway, here is what I think the result will be tonight. Sticking with Sweden, but kinda hoping for a surprise, even though I like it... Eurovision hosted in Italy would be amazeballs, for instance - or a Belgian victory, as that would give my economy a nice boost.

1 Sweden | Mums mums.
2 Italy
3 Russia
4 Belgium | Been quite confident this will do relatively well all along, as it's just so good, but also seems to have a gained a bit of momentum after the semi.
5 Latvia | Opposite here, I've doubted its chances all along, but maybemaybe? Good draw for it too, I'd say!
6 Australia
7 Estonia | Looked great on screen.
8 Norway | It really should do better than Carl Espen last year, but there's just no room further up...
9 Azerbaijan
10 Slovenia
11 Georgia
12 Armenia | Will be interesting to see how the juries judge this - I really have no idea... Whereas the televote support from the diaspora presumably is at least as strong as usual.
13 Spain
14 Israel
15 Albania | Very unsure about this...
16 Greece | Whereas it seems obvious this will end up about here.
17 Serbia
18 Lithuania
19 Romania
20 France
21 Montenegro
22 United Kingdom | Rehearsal reports not promising, but I do think there will be the odd jury here and there really falling for it, keeping it off the last place.
23 Hungary | Worked quite well in the semi, but I still think it's all rather useless.
24 Germany
25 Cyprus | Would be nice to be wrong about this, but I just can't see many remembering it with that draw.
26 Austria | Still can't hum it...
27 Poland

Have an amazing evening, everyone - it's Eurovision tonight!!

Final betting guide: some bets you should have placed

For an event that's meant to be the highlight of our year as Eurovision fans, final night can sometimes be a bit of an anti-climax. We've seen nearly all the songs, we have a good idea of how everything's going to be performed, and, more often than not in recent years, the winner is a bit of a foregone conclusion.

So, let's spice things up a bit with a few bets!

The obvious place for most people to bet is the win market, but honestly, that's a bit dull. All the good money has gone weeks ago, and unless you've suddenly spotted something that you missed until the semi-finals, betting on the final is all a bit ho-hum. Sweden are an ever greater favourite than they were before, with best odds of 2.4; maybe you've spotted something in Belgium, whose odds are now at 11, having come in dramatically since the semi-final, or you still have faith in Italy, whose odds have drifted slightly to 6 since the running order announcement.

However, let's brighten up the rest of the voting. Betting on other outcomes gives you the chance to look further down the scoreboard - particularly if you're convinced Sweden are winning, betting on other results can liven up a potentially dull voting.

There's obviously the Top 3, Top 4, Top 5 and Top 10 markets offered by a number of bookies (though they rarely offer all combinations). The Top 10 market has been one of my favourites to bet on this year, as with a few key favourites probably occupying the top positions, the rest of the high end of the scoreboard could be a bit volatile. It's worth remembering that you don't always need a huge amount of support to reach 9th or 10th - Ruth Lorenzo came 10th with just 74 points last year.

This means that a country can often reach the top 10 without getting all-round support - either just winning votes from one part of Europe or, as Ruth did, scoring mainly from juries. Interesting bets here to my mind therefore include Georgia, at 2.75, and Romania, at 3.25. I also find it intriguing that you can still more than double your money by betting on Azerbaijan to be Top 10. The performance on Thursday was, to my mind, overly messy and distracting, but I still think there'll be certain viewers who will gobble this up.

Of course, if you want to be looking down at the right of the scoreboard, there's always the market for last place. The UK is 'favourite' here, with odds of 4, but I'm surprised you can get odds of 11 for Poland to come last - they only narrowly escaped the last place in 2008 with a similarly-styled song, and could well go one worse, with televoters and juries alike having plenty of other stronger-voiced balladeers to choose from.

One of my favourite markets during the final is the head-to-heads (sometimes called match bets). This effectively pits one country against another, with the higher placed one winning. There's tons of combinations of these spread among the various bookmakers, and I'd advise you to have a browse. Particularly if you think a certain song is underrated, it might be safer to bet on it to beat another, weaker song, rather than to come Top 5 or Top 10 - after all, if you bet on France to beat the UK, France could come 26th and you'd still win your bet if the UK came last!

One of the countries I've been looking at in the matches is Germany, as I feel they're generally quite underrated - not a top 10 contender, but also likely not bottom 5 to my mind. So I've taken odds of 2.25 for them to finish ahead of Poland, for example, who, as you'll have gathered from above or my earlier prediction, I think are pretty doomed. There's also odds of 2.1 available for them to beat France, though I haven't gone near that one as France could potentially gather a lot of jury support. It can also be fun to bet on matches that are rated quite close, and keep an eye on them throughout the voting - Greece vs Cyprus is always a good one (Greece are seen as the favourite here), or Armenia vs Azerbaijan. One head-to-head that stuck out to me was the 3.5 offered by Bet365 for Hungary to finish ahead of Romania. While I do think Romania is probably the victor here, those generous odds convinced me it was worth a punt.

Finally, there's always the occasional random bet out there, and this year bwin want to know if you think Loïc Nottet will score more points than Mariya Yaremchuk did last year, or if Polina Gagarina can get more points than Andras Kallay-Saunders amassed (spoiler: yes).

As always, oddschecker is your friend, and I hope you have a very enjoyable (and profitable) evening!

A small prediction

At this stage in proceedings I don't think I can manage to say very much that hasn't already been said after two weeks of scrutinising rehearsals, performances, clothes, graphics, lighting and trees.

But it is a blogger's duty to predict (and oh, btw, I had 10/10 on Thursday), and predict I shall:

Sweden will win.

I'd love for there to be a surprise but at this stage I can't see it happening. If it's not Sweden I expect it will be one of the other favourites, with the dark horses having become invisible on the blue backdrop.

And call me a crazy mad thing, but I've put my winnings from Thursday - Iceland not to qualify, since you ask - on the UK to receive not a single douze points tonight. Now watch the Albanian jury screw me.

Is it wine o'clock?

Predicting the final

Well, here we are. It's going to be really interesting afterwards to look back at all these predictions, because either it's going to be a 'that was such an easy year to predict' contest, or it's going to be a 'we never saw that coming'.

I haven't changed many of my predictions throughout the season, and very little has actually changed this week either. A few have popped upwards and a couple of others have fallen even lower, but particularly at the top end, the status quo rules supreme.

So, here we go, my Top 27 prediction:

1. Sweden - watching it on Thursday I didn't actually feel captured by the same magic I did when I first saw it in Melodifestivalen, so I was tempted to rate it lower. But I'm still sticking by my gut, that the best visual show wins, and that this is still the best visual show.
2. Belgium - a big climber, doing well on the iTunes charts, and seems to be getting positive comments from bloggers despite the challenge of performing after Australia.
3. Russia - I've always thought this would do well, but similarly have never thought it would win. I just don't think Russia, as a country, can win Eurovision in the current climate.
4. Norway
5. Estonia
- Also doing well on iTunes, I do think this is too negative as a performance to win, but they do communicate the message very well, and I think that's enough to lift it into the top 5.

6. Australia - I had this down as a potential winner for much of the season, but rehearsal reports and videos have lost Guy some of his momentum. I think it'll be where I originally predicted it back in March when first challenged by friends - 6th.
7. Italy
8. Cyprus
9. Latvia
- there's a small part of me that thinks this can possibly go even higher, but I'm not confident enough to bet on it for Top 5.
10. Azerbaijan

11. Georgia
- definitely an outside for the top 10, particularly with its draw.
12. Austria - one that I think could surprise a little.
13. Slovenia - I managed to lay this for Top 10 at odds of 2 during the semi-final. It's gone further out since, so I could back it and make an automatic profit now, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one.
14. Romania
15. Spain
16. Israel
17. Germany
18. Serbia
- I'm placing both this and Israel in the category of 'great fun in the semi, underwhelming and throwaway in the final'.
19. Albania - consensus seems to be that it scraped through on Tuesday. I'm not so sure, but I don't think it's much of a contender tonight.
20. Armenia

21. Greece
22. Lithuania
- too lightweight to really make an impact, would have benefited greatly from being near the end of the show.
23. Hungary
24. Montenegro
25. France
- would have stood a chance of a good result from a second-half draw. At second, it's screwed.
26. Poland - benefited greatly from being on last on Thursday. It's late again, but I don't see why anyone would choose this over many of the other ballads on offer.
27. UK - just... why would anyone vote for this?

Final scoresheets

Following a number of requests, our scoresheets for tonight's Eurovision final are now available.

Click to download

We'd love to see your photos of how you use them tonight - tweet us @ESCNation or tag us @ESCNation on Instagram.

Haiku #12

The winner soon known
First half may conquer again
Does Sochi beckon?