Eurovision 2011 Final Preview Part Two – Outright Winner

After this morning’s look at the top ten and specials markets, where I do the vast majority of my own punting, it’s time to address the headline question of the night – who will win Eurovision 2011?

I have to admit that I have already made a profit on the outright win market for Eurovision tonight and I’m keeping hold of it. I got a couple of quid at 200/1 on France’s ‘Sognu’ just after the song was released, and added to it at a much shorter 7/2 after the first visual run-through here in Dusseldorf. It was always my plan to hedge those bets by ‘laying’ (betting against) Amaury Vassili, and I did so at under 7/4 yesterday.

The fact that I’ve hedged should tell you that I’m not at all confident about whether or not Amaury will justify France’s position as hot favourite to take the prize – but nonetheless, here’s my take on it.

Right from when Amaury’s song was first released, and I wrote about my early impressions, the big reason for punters to scratch their heads has been that we have no precedent for how well a classical crossover piece like ‘Sognu’ will go down with Eurovision televoters. Classical crossover is a niche, albeit one with a market in both eastern and western Europe.

I still don’t have an answer, and now we have another reason to scratch our heads – all the other main contenders have accumulated question marks against them, not least the way they have been put into the running order.

Many of my early doubts about ‘Sognu’ have, however, dissipated over rehearsals fortnight. What seemed like an unfavourably early draw (11 of 25) now looks much less of a problem, as the places drawn by the second semi-final qualifiers mean it will provide viewers with a striking contrast after a clutch of uptempo numbers.

I still have issues with the construction of the song – it feels rather crammed into its three minutes – but it turns out that as well as an amazing voice, Amaury Vassili brings a passionate stage presence, and there is also a stunning backdrop of clouds turning into dawn. The overall impression is rather static, but there are goosebump-y moments.

And then there is a killer camera shot, panning back on the penultimate big note, which is repeated in the reprise. All in all, I think it will be enough – and while I won’t be going in again at current odds, France is my tip for the win.

The one nation I could see providing a bigger moment is Azerbaijan, when the fiery rain starts falling for the final part of ‘Running Scared’. Ell and Nikki (they have reverted to their Anglicised names) tick every box with their song. It has the draw, the voting allies, a jury-friendly song and a pan-European appeal.

Nikki is never going to provide strong vocals, but I have to admit that she was serviceable enough in last night’s jury rehearsal. So what is missing? It’s hard to say, but the feeling has persisted since its first rehearsal that there’s a certain intangible something lacking. I’m just not ‘feeling’ it in the way that I do with France.

For that reason I have Azerbaijan slated for the runner-up slot. But since the draw for the final left them all alone of the main contenders in the latter part of the draw, their price has understandably shortened considerably. So can we find an each-way selection at more rewarding odds? I’m going for Austria, currently top-priced at 33/1.

Having watched the final run-through this afternoon, it struck me for the first time that this is the right song at the right time in the running order. Here’s another entry which will appeal across the continent and contains an amazing performance from Nadine Beiler, who lifts ‘The Secret Is Love’ into something else.

Context is so important. It’s unfortunate for a whole host of songs which could otherwise have been very strong contenders that they are on early tonight. Finland, and to an even greater extent Bosnia and Denmark, would have been in contention with the right draw. But now they are part of a run of three blokes-with-guitars at the very start of the show.

Similarly, the Hungary – Ireland – Sweden – Estonia run of songs in the 5-8 positions, swiftly followed by Russia at 10, gives us a whirl of uptempo songs, again very early in the show. Whilst they are in some ways very distinct from each other, I don’t think that one stands out as sufficiently better than the others to challenge for victory.

If forced to choose which one of those will perform best on the leaderboard, I would go for Estonia, because it’s the best song with the cutest staging.

Of the other contenders within the Big 5, I’m afraid the curse of the boy or girl band at Eurovision in recent years seems to have afflicted the UK’s Blue, who will not be winning based on last night’s underpowered jury rehearsal.

Germany’s Lena has the advantage of being introduced to the TV audience during the opening act, reminding us she is last year’s winner. However, ‘Taken By A Stranger’ is surely too arty for the main prize. And I would be shocked if anything I haven’t mentioned yet emerges as a contender for the win.

In summary, then, here’s Sofabet’s Top 3 prediction:

1. France
2. Azerbaijan
3. Austria

What do you think? Please let me know in the comments box below – I look forward to hearing your thoughts and fleshing out my own thoughts in the discussion.

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42 comments to Eurovision 2011 Final Preview Part Two – Outright Winner

  • Tim

    Daniel, I’m very curious about Austria’s voting allies in tonight’s final. Please can you give some insight?

    • Daniel

      Hi Tim, the short answer is that they don’t really have any. I’m relying on the power of Nadine’s performance alone from a great place in the running order. The whole feel of it reminds me of a ‘Pop Idol’ winner’s song, the kind of thing which everyone in Europe is now familar with.

  • panos

    Again, I agree with all 3 of them. So glad at the moment for having austria top10 and top5 at long odds from long time ago. It feels like exactly what you said, the right song at the right time, and I am sure it went top5 with juries last night. It can go top 5 overall if televoters have her in their top10 I guess, which is surely a possibility. Many of my friends were impressed by it on Thursday. Finally, I still think one of UK/Russia/Denmark might still make it to the top5. Good luck!

  • Peter

    Great analysis Daniel.I see it the same on paper but fear that the Azeri live performance tonight will be weak. So I’d swap out Azeri for Ireland. Sadly as I have big EW on Azeri and w/o France. Interestingly the w/o France market has some tempting prices for those who think France have weighed in. Good luck tonight and may the best song win!

    • Daniel

      The live performance for Azerbaijan is going to be interesting indeed. She got away with it last night, I felt, but you never know tonight. There is the possibility that she is really weak and does indeed spoil the chances of ‘Running Scared’.

  • fiveleaves

    Good to see you’re now on the Austrian Secret Love Wagon, Dan 😉

    One of the bloggers said the performance last night even gave his hair goosebumps 😀

    Cowell would love her and has probably already been in touch with her management.

  • Pete

    11/8 (Betfair) on Austria to finish Top 10 seems excellent value too.

  • Mitch

    I’m unsure about Austria too and their voting allies? Not many.
    France not really sticking your neck out and I think could be like marmite.
    Azer though I agree, top three for sure!

  • Tim

    I’m no expert, but I really don’t see any weakness in Nikki’s live singing voice. It is relatively weak compared to the likes of Austria, but it seems fine to me. The song doesn’t really require a powerful voice as it doesn’t go high enough. Anyway, most people will probably be distracted by the choreography and staging, which is excellent and arguably the best of the lot.

  • Ron

    Daniel, I’ve watched clips today of the Big 5 performances from the dress rehearsals last night taken from the official broadcast (they were quickly deleted).I’m going to stick my neck out and say France will be very lucky to get near top 5 in the televote, never mind win it.It seemed rather drab and pedestrian on TV and even as if it was competing in the wrong contest…..I felt like I was watching a 1995 entry which had ended up here by accident.I didn’t get any sense of ‘wow’ factor from the performance.It may well do better in the jury vote, but I could see it finish 8th in the televote or something.Just my own opinion of course, but I wouldn’t dream of backing it at any price.

    Agree completely that Austria is the one to watch in the latter half and not so much Azerbaijan, but don’t discount Jedward : ahead of all the others on the iTunes charts and getting a huge amount of hits on Youtube today.

  • Hello Daniel, what is the safest bet? France to win Eurovision or Austria in the top 10? The Google prediction is confusing me, placing germany in first place??

  • Rob

    Hi Dan,
    My top 4 is: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Austria, Hungary, so we agree on 2 🙂
    I still do not remotely see ‘What About My Dreams’ in the category of ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’. It’s far superior and more contemporary imho.
    France could obviously run away with it… we shall see.
    On a note regarding tonight’s final, I’m still quite a newbie to ESC in-running betting. At what point (traditionally) would you say the leaderboard starts to take proper shape – 10 juries in…? I appreciate it should be different this year with the way they are trying to do it, but I recall the dramatic changes in outright prices early on last year, when (I think) Denmark received the first 12.
    Do you favour trading on the Outright market during these early jury rounds and then move to your top 10 book towards the latter stages? It’s obviously tough to stay on top of all positions across all the different markets.

    • Daniel

      Hi Rob, and you ask a good question. I should reiterate to those that don’t know: the order of tonight’s voting has been designed to try and make the process of announcing which countries have got what points as exciting and close as possible.

      This alters the nature of betting in-running in some repsects. It may take much longer for the market to work out what is going on. For those who know voting trends, however, their mission remains the same: to see which countries are getting more points than one would otherwise expect from each source.

      Early caution is advised, however, bearing in mind the example you use: the first two 12s (from countries as diverse as Romania and Ireland) in 2010 went to Denmark, causing huge movements in the market. Denmark only came fourth. So it is wise to wait for more than a few results before starting to take a position.

  • Gazz

    Hi,my wager has gone on Georgia e/w @ 120/1.I picked last years winner much later at a much shorter price.

  • David

    Daniel, it would be interesting to hear your comments on Ireland/Jedward, in more detail! You’ve previously compared it to the wagner hype, does that mean you’re discounting them as winners – and perhaps even from the top5?

    Your reasoning here would be enlightening 🙂

  • Daniel

    Hi David, unfortunately I am in the middle of all the talk about it here in Dusseldorf, which is most distracting. What I will say is that any talk of Jedward’s chances based on the hype they are generating, ignores the possible impact of a low jury score. Secondly, all that coverage for the likes of Wagner and Jedward on X-Factor, doesn’t necessarily translate into people voting for them en masse.

    • Andrew

      Just to add, apropos Jedward, that I have long wondered what is the impact on Eurovision voting of what the various national commentators say in the intro to each song. That is, most viewers know nothing about most acts in advance; commentators say “now here’s an act everyone’s talking about, they’re one of the favourites”; this frames viewers’ expectations, making them take more of an interest and be more likely to vote – after all, everyone likes to support a winner.

      I guess what we have in Jedward tonight is the ultimate test case of this theory! 🙂

      • David

        My guess is that hype in itself generates next to none votes. People at home aren’t exposed to it, and commentators saying “this is the favorite” (which isn’t even the case for Ireland) probably don’t influence a lot.

        Instead, I think that the same things that cause the hype – in this case namely the immediate and energetic impact – also draws votes. The question here is in what numbers.

        • Andrew

          But is it really just the immediate and energetic impact that is causing the hype, though, David? As opposed to some very smart work on the part of Jedward’s management, perhaps including – as fiveleaves suggested on another thread – some strategic betting to ensure that Jedward would be talked about as a potential winner rather than a joke act?

          I think you may underestimate the power of framing expectations – I do think it could influence how a lot of casual viewers perceive a song if they’re told in advance that it is widely considered to be good or bad. Whether that then translates into votes, I have no idea. But I think this may be what Jedward’s management are hoping for.

  • Karas

    Excellent choice about Austria, available in betfair amazingly 2.25 for top 10!!. Also, it seems a sure bet to buy now in betfair 50/1 and then lay at 30/1 while singing !! Daniel , any words still about the voting order ?

  • Rob

    Hi Dan,
    Do you have the running order of juries as used during this afternoon’s final rehearsal? We don’t know it will be this jury order but it would be interesting to know it, and then see if it pans out the same watching live.

  • Duncan

    Daniel you should have had a bit of fun and tipped Ireland to win. There would have been a few people on Betfair ******** themselves 🙂

  • Chris

    Hi Daniel:

    Thanks again for the insight! I’ve accumulated a large position on Azerbaijan to win and to end up in the top 4. I think there are a number of things favoring them (the draw, the Turkish diaspora, weak competition from the Caucasus, a song that is friendly to Western tastes, the “romantic” factor never to be ruled out on a Saturday night, etc.) and think that they will still stand out between Austria and Slovenia. I am very confident that Azerbaijan will win or at least end up in the to 3.

    Elsewhere, I think Lithuania is a good bet for last place. With Austria and Slovenia coming up later, this song will sink.

    I’ve also put some money against Estonia ending up in the top 10. I think Ukraine is borderline and might end up between 9th and 12th spot.

    Good luck!

  • geoff

    i still think sweden can do really well maybe even pull off the win but we shall see

  • annie

    i noticed they released the voting order on esctoday.com they said it’s set up based on the jury votes, to make it as exciting as possible. looking at it can you maybe draw some conclusions, hints of what is to expect ?

  • annie

    the last few are almost completely eastern european… :)… or is it impossible to say anithing with no precedent…

    • Daniel

      This does seem to be the voting order, based on what a few national commentators have said. If so, there is an ex-USSR bias towards the end. Remember it only takes into account last night’s jury votes and a guess about how televotes will pan out as a result.

  • Great performance from Austria!

  • annie

    wooow, austria almost on top of betting odds!!

  • Austria will not be in the top 10, unfortunately…

  • annie

    the votes are craaazy! at first i thought they are just mixing it well but now, towards the end it should shape towards end result and it’s simply jaw-dropping …

  • I will never bet on this event!!

  • Adam

    Sweden’s broken glass thing must of helped!

  • Adam

    Most viewed finalists on the eurovision channel by 13 May:

    1 Azerbaijan 1,022,850

  • Gabriel

    Thanks for the finalist predictions Dan, just made a nice £15 profit!

  • Sorry to say this but I think the results of the Eurovision Song Contest are combined in favor of gambling sites. After all, we are talking about several millions of $, € and £!!

  • peter

    What a show and what a result. Thanks Daniel for your insights and professionalism. Laughing all the way to the bank.
    See you in Baku!

  • Kieran

    Hi Daniel!I chose Azer some time ago, but was swayed by the bookies and went for France for the win. However, i took your advice on Greece to come top 10 and that saved me! Well done again on your predictions Daniel.

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