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Semi 2: Five bets to consider

by | May 12, 2016 | 2016 ESC General, Uncategorized

Semi 2: Five bets to consider

by | May 12, 2016 | 2016 ESC General, Uncategorized

The lead-up to the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest is always a time for “lessons learned”.

Several of the assumptions we make about ESC voting went out of the window on Tuesday night: Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina lost their 100% qualification records, while the belief that being near the end of the running order automatically gives you a huge (tele)voting advantage was called into question by the fact that only two of the songs drawn between 13th and 18th made it through to Saturday’s grand final.

While my own bets went reasonably well on the whole – I’m kicking myself for chickening out of my lay on Iceland for a top 15 finish in the final, but I’m glad to have got firmly on the Estonia NQ bandwagon in good time – I’m acutely aware that at least two of the tips I gave in this blog on Tuesday were ill-advised (we won’t find out the other results until the early hours of Sunday morning), so I’ll try to come up with something more useful in today’s suggestions!

Incidentally, you can find an overview of the idea behind this blog series and the betting terms and principles used in my piece from Tuesday.

Ukraine, 1944 points | © Andres Putting

Ukraine, 1944 points | © Andres Putting

Let’s begin with something fairly obvious, anyway:

  • Ukraine to win the semi-final. Yes, yes, I know. If you’ve waited this long, you’ve missed the boat on the better odds that were available on Jamala to top the polls tonight – a visually stunning set of rehearsals quickly put paid to them – but when you look at the field of songs on offer in the second semi-final, even the best available odds of 1.62 (Betfred/Ladbrokes) look inviting for a song that should be a comfortable top 3 challenger once we reach Saturday night. Besides, we saw on Tuesday that the visual tricks and gimmicks deployed by host broadcaster SVT this year are particularly beneficial to songs that might otherwise just seem like a lady shouting angrily for three minutes (hello Armenia!).
  • Serbia to finish in the top 3. If we’re saying that Ukraine is likely to win the semi, that leaves less wiggle room in the top 3 market, but I’m going to give a recommendation here anyway. To my mind, the only other realistic candidates for the podium tonight are the overrated fan favourite from Australia (we can happily discard the other f*nw*nk, Bulgaria, based on their appalling staging and styling choices), Justs from Latvia, plus outsiders like Israel’s Hovi Star or even Belgium’s Laura Tesoro if things go a little bit strange. So why not Serbia? The song is strong and contemporary-but-traditional in the Adele vein, Sanja has toned down the “Winehouse tribute act” histrionics hugely since the (mimed) performance from the preview video, and while I don’t love all the visual choices that were on show at last night’s jury final, odds of 3.1 (Betfair) in a semi-final packed with Serbia-friendly televoting countries seem too tempting to ignore.
Flipping heck | © Andres Putting

Flipping heck | © Andres Putting

  • Lithuania to finish higher than Poland. Both of these countries are borderline qualifiers for me, but I think they’ll both make it through to Saturday night in the end. So where to make money from them? Well, bwin offers a number of interesting head-to-head markets (Ukraine to beat Australia at 1.40 is a nice alternative to the aforementioned semi winner bet, for example), and Lithuania vs. Poland is one of them. Despite being the relative outsider in bwin’s view, I’m taking Donny Montell to win this particular fight at odds of 2.05 for one simple reason: Both countries will benefit hugely (and similarly) from diaspora televoting in this semi-final, but while “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night” may lack much in the way of a verse, it’s a far more contemporary song with a performer who seems to know what he’s doing. Add in the later slot in the running order (and ignore the stupid hair, because it’s not as if Michał is any better in that department) and I’m happy to come down on the Lithuanian side of the battle.
  • Ireland to qualify. Wait, don’t hit me. Can I just say one thing first? I don’t actually think this will happen. Nicky Byrne has been underwhelming in rehearsals and “Sunlight” is such a vanilla song it risks melting in a pool of its own nothingness. And yet… Nicky was in Westlife. Westlife were huge. And it wouldn’t take too many of the girls and women who bought the band’s albums for years (and years and years…) to come out and support their hero for him to suddenly be back in contention for qualification. In any case, in an 18-song field that contains a few no-hopers, the best available odds of 4.5 (Coral) feel like they’re worth a nibble if you subscribe to the same theory.
Glitterz and glamourz | © Andres Putting

Glitterz and glamourz | © Andres Putting

  • Georgia to fail to qualify. I’ve been desperately searching for value in the NQ market but, to be honest, I think the markets have got it largely right. The one minor exception is Georgia, whose odds came waaaaaay in on the back of some impressive early rehearsals. That, to me, opens up some potential for profit. Good rehearsals or not, the Georgian entry remains an extremely difficult and inaccessible listen for a Eurovision audience – as much as I love it personally! – and the fact that you can still get odds of 1.91 (at Winner) surprises me. I’ll be taking a bit of that, partly because it’s money I’ll be happy to lose if the Young Georgian Lolitaz (ahem) do end up making a repeat appearance on Saturday night.

So those are my five detailed thoughts for tonight’s show. Unlike on Tuesday, the “last place” market doesn’t offer the value I’d be looking for: Switzerland is understandably the hot favourite for the wooden spoon, but it’s not inconceivable that Rykka could clamber above one or two of the other no-hopers and escape the fate that befell Melanie René last year, so I’m steering clear of that particular constellation – at least until the show begins! Don’t forget that you can always bet “in play” if you see something on the screen that suddenly makes a light bulb illuminate above your head…

And on that note, here’s to a successful and profitable night of betting for all of you. Enjoy the show!

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