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Just wanna bet you off: Your guide to semi-final 2

by | May 10, 2018

Just wanna bet you off: Your guide to semi-final 2

by | May 10, 2018 | Eurovision |

So how did you do on Tuesday? My early-season scepticism over the (then) short odds for Belarus and Macedonia to qualify proved profitable, as did a confident punt on the Irish being able to successfully stage their song for a change – but I did misread the underwhelming early Austrian rehearsals and the market hype over Lithuania, having a little bet against both that obviously proved misguided. A decent evening all in all, though!

And so we turn our attention to tonight’s second semi-final, widely regarded as the considerably weaker of the two and – as such – a bit of a difficult one to predict from a betting perspective. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the markets and the available odds (at the time of writing!). If you need an introduction to betting odds before we begin, our friends over at Sofabet have a comprehensive guide; I use fractional odds in all my articles on escgo! so that’s what you’ll want to be familiar with.

To lift a phrase directly from Tuesday’s blog, the obvious place to start is the qualification market, since the “yes/no” binary of whether a country comes out of one of those digital envelopes is the only result we’ll actually get to see tonight – the detailed breakdown won’t be revealed until the early hours of Sunday morning. There aren’t too many long shots in this mixed bag of a semi-final, but if you’ve been won over by Lea Sirk’s rehearsal performances for Slovenia, you can still get odds in the region of 5.0 (Ladbrokes, Coral etc.) for her to qualify from her decent position in the running order. Similarly, there might just be an audience for the oasis of calm that is Iriao from Georgia – 5.8 (Marathon Bet) says their ethno-jazz stylings will be making a repeat appearance on Saturday night. At the short-odds end of the market, the obvious qualifiers don’t offer a great deal of value, but you might want to consider the Netherlands. The response to Waylon and his “ode to his own authenticity” (no, seriously, that’s actually what he calls it) has suffered from some decidedly inauthentic staging choices on the part of the Dutch team, but he’s one of the few performers in this semi-final to command every camera and hit every note, and as much as it pains me to say it, I’m sure he’ll be in the pot for the final later tonight. As such, odds of 1.45 (Betfair Exchange) for a return of almost 50% on your money seem too good to refuse.

And then there’s Russia. When have there ever been odds as long as 2.56 (Betfair Exchange) for a Russian entry to qualify? The song, the performer and the whole package this year are subject to so many question marks that I’m going nowhere near it on the betting front – but you may well feel it’s worth a nibble at that price.

Surprise-qualifier band Iriao?

When it comes to non-qualification, Laura Rizzotto from Latvia has fallen slightly out of favour but can still be found at 1.9 (Unibet) to crash out tonight. That seems tempting for a song that’s unlikely to connect with televoters to any great extent, although like the Netherlands, it does represent the kind of psuedo-quality entry that juries have been known to absolutely adore in the past, so it may be better to avoid it in a semi where it mightn’t take much to sneak over the line in tenth place. Elsewhere, Poland is surprisingly highly regarded even allowing for the accessible song and the country’s in-built televoting advantage. Gromee and Lukas Meijer are far from the most convincing of live performers, so the question will be whether the audience in the arena tonight buys into the Avicii-esque tones of “Light Me Up” and helps lift the entry to another level. If they don’t, odds of 3.55 (SportingBet) for a Polish non-qualification start to look interesting.

In terms of the top 3 in the second semi-final, the assembled fan press has gone gaga for Hungary’s screamo band AWS, bringing them in as far as 4.2 (Betfair Exchange) to finish on the podium tonight. I don’t believe they have the mainstream appeal to get anywhere near that, and instead I’d be looking at Ukraine. “Under The Ladder” has gone under the radar as far as punters are concerned, and even if you don’t believe in Melovin’s chances come Saturday night, I’d be happy enough to accept odds of 2.62 (Betfair Exchange) for him to take one of the top three positions from the pimp slot in a seriously patchy semi-final.

As for the winner of tonight’s semi-final, the gamblers of the online world appear happy to endorse Norway, which comes as no surprise given Alexander Rybak’s strong standing in the overall winner market. However, his starting position and the nature of the semi-final audience mean he ought to perform better on Saturday night than he does tonight. If you believe that opens things up for another winner, who stands in line to take his place? Moldova have been one of the outperformers of the week, closing in to just 8.7 (Marathon Bet) to top the table tonight, but I’m not totally sold on the press centre hype for their three-minute Carry On film. I can’t tip Ukraine again, although they could be a decent each-way nibble at 11.0 (various), so how about a really dull choice instead? Sweden. Boring, predictable Sweden with their boringly professional performance and their boringly favourable spot in the running order. You can still grab 4.0 (Coral) for Benjamin Ingrosso to be your semi-final winner tonight, and that doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable.

Engrossing or gross-out?

Let’s finish on a down note, because negativity is fun! Who’s taking last place tonight? It’s a good question, and there’s not much money in the Betfair market for this one at all, though you can expect that to change a little in play. San Marino are the obvious front-runner at odds of 1.55, but we know they’re likely to have a head start of 20+ points from Jessika’s home country of Malta before they even begin. Could anything else fall through the gaps, then? Despite the late draw, it’s conceivable that Montenegro’s umpteenth rehash of that Balkan ballad will get short shrift (it’s currently 4.1 for last place), or you might buy the argument that soberly performed ethno-jazz will not be Europe’s thing at all, in which case Georgia can be taken for 3.15. Serbia could also be a good-value nibble at 8.6, since they’re unlikely to reach beyond the absolute core audience for the almost wilfully difficult “Nova deca”.

The problem faced by tonight’s participating countries that they’ve got to vote for ten songs, even if they don’t actually like ten songs. That could mean the scoring is all over the place, and a country might theoretically finish bottom of the pile with quite a high total score. With that in mind, I’m tempted to say “hands off” when it comes to the last place market, as it could be a bit of a crapshoot – but if you do have an outlier instinct, there’s money to be made.

They are who they are

As always, you can see a full overview of the odds for the various markets and bookmakers at Oddschecker. Wherever you place your money and however you watch the show tonight, I hope you have a fun and profitable evening – and join us in two days’ time as we return to analyse the grand final from a betting perspective, with all the additional markets that brings. Head-to-heads! Regional groups! Everyone vs. the UK! I’ll see you then.

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