Eurovision 2014 Semi-Final Allocation Draw

The semi-final allocation draw for Eurovision 2014 has just taken place. We now know which countries will participate in the two heats, and in which half of the draw each will perform. You can see the list here.

With only 37 taking part in total (Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Cyprus have pulled out since last year, Poland and Portugal return), there are only 16 songs in heat 1 and 15 songs in heat 2 chasing ten qualification places in each.

With the lowest turnout in the two-semi era that started in 2008, there’s less competition for places and the draw may be not quite as vital as before, but here are a few initial thoughts.

1. The first heat has the potential to be more competitive. It has one more entry overall, three of the five countries with a 100% qualification record (Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan), and another big hitter with plenty of voting allies present – Armenia.

2. That’s good news for Ireland, who could not have asked for anything more, a draw in the second half of the second semi – the one in which the UK will be voting.

3. The first semi has a little more Scandi / Baltic representation with hosts Denmark voting in it and the likes of Sweden, Iceland, Estonia and Latvia participating – although they’re all in the first half of the draw.

4. The former USSR bloc looms largest of all, and that is better represented in semi 1 too. Alongside the two Baltic countries, there’s Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Just Georgia, Lithuania and Belarus of the former Soviet states are in semi 2, though the Israeli televote tends to look east too.

5. The Balkans suffered a semi-final wipeout last year, and with the added withdrawals of Serbia and Croatia, it doesn’t look easier for them this time around. For example, Albania has been separated from voting allies FYROM (who look pretty lonely in semi 2), Italy, Greece and Switzerland.

Still, with so few countries in opposition, a relatively strong song that’s well performed should qualify no matter what. Let us know your thoughts on the draw and any other Eurovision business below.

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12 comments to Eurovision 2014 Semi-Final Allocation Draw

  • Martin F.

    And for anyone itching to capitalise on Ireland’s statistical advantage even at this early stage, Paddy Power will give you 4/6 for an Irish qualification. Obviously a risk considering we don’t know the Irish song yet (indeed, all we have in the second semi-final so far is a slice of “Cheesecake”), but in a field of 15 and with the situation as described, that price is unlikely to get any more generous even after we do know more!

    Ahh, on-season, I’ve missed you… 🙂

  • Austria has Germany, Italy, the UK, Slovenia and Switzerland. Plus, Conchita kept away from the ex-USSR-filled homophobic 1st semi. Looking good!

  • Daniel

    The Betfair win market on Eurovision is open for trading, btw.

  • Ben Cook

    Last year 6 ex-USSR countries made it through in semi 1. Looks like this year there will be 7! Sweden should be a safe enough bet also, with the other 2 places up for grabs.

    Albania are stuffed. Not only is their song dreadful, all of their friends either not competing or in the other semi.

    Despite the effort Hungary put in, I feel they may struggle in that semi, especially having heard the songs on offer.

    Belgium are doing a massive NF this year, and I fancy their chances of sneaking through.

    San Marino have a few friends in the 1st semi but they’d have been much better off in the wider open 2nd semi, which is much harder to predict.

    FYR Macedonia and Slovenia look just as stuffed as Albania. Poland, Austria and Switzerland all have a chance with Germany voting, but seems quite difficult to rule out most of the other countries at this stage too.

    • eurovicious

      Albania is the type of song that until last year I’d have called a jury magnet. It’s musically sophisticated and Hersi is an excellent young female singer – it’s the sort of thing that juries have always gone for. However, looking at the jury results from SF2 last year and seeing Moran Mazor so far down and Malta, Azerbaijan and Greece as the jury top 3 doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I do think it will struggle with televoters in both western and eastern Europe, unlike Suus, unless the performance and staging are really magical and the rest of the field is weak, all of which is conceivable.

      Montenegro is the most guaranteed NQ, they’re stuffed – not only no other Yugo countries in the semi but no diaspora countries either, and I expect the song to be viewer- and jury-unfriendly dad rock. Macedonia can’t rely on neighbours either – the countries Tijana is well-known in have withdrawn – so it’ll all come down to the song, and we saw last year how foreign-language-unfriendly the juries were, with the 4 ex-Yu countries being unfairly ranked bottom by juries in SF1 and neighbouring Bulgaria bottom in SF2. I’m sure with the right song and performance Tijana could qualify, but if the song’s not in English, its qualification chances will be majorly hindered.

      It goes without saying that SF1 last year was very difficult given there were just 16 songs – this year we’re down to one semi with 16 and one with 15 which makes predicting qualifiers more difficult still, particularly as we saw last year that a song can come top 5 in the televote (Montenegro, Switzerland) and still NQ because juries mark it down. A ridiculous system that amounts to fraud in my book, and trying to call things like this is almost a lottery. Of course in every semi there are the guaranteed qualifiers, but they’re never value, and it’s these borderline value calls – the fate of which rests on jury fickleness – that the new ranking system makes so unpredictable.

      Slovenia is generally doomed whatever it sends 80% of the time and I’m not sure how much they care anymore. But it occurs to me looking at SF2 that it’s the closest thing to a “Central Europe semi” we’ve possibly ever had, which is a novum – Germany and Italy are voting, and Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia and Poland are competing (plus, at the periphery, Lithuania and Macedonia). These are the central European countries that always struggle to qualify as they don’t belong to the Scandi, USSR or Balkan blocs, they’re not part of regional music markets, and they don’t have diasporas or strong voting relationships with each other. Given the lack of any real bloc in SF2 apart from Central Europe (which has never acted like a bloc), I think the regional/diaspora effects will be more minimal in this semi than in any to date, so we could see countries making the final that typically don’t if they send something sufficiently decent.

  • Ben Cook

    Worth pointing out that we’ve never had more than 5 qualifiers from the top half of a semi, which makes the prospect of all 7 ex-USSR countries qualifying unlikely when you factor in Sweden being in that first half too.

  • Daniel

    Thanks for posting this, EV. Was just looking at it myself and feeling relieved I don’t have to go through the same calculation this year. At a later date, I adjust according to strong strength for a rough scoreboard prediction.

    Worth pointing out to the uninitiated that these stats run from 2008-13. Juries only started playing their part (50%) in semi-final proceedings from 2010. As of last year, they and televoters ranked ALL the songs from top to bottom rather than just having a top ten. This gave each a greater ability to reduce overall scores for those they favoured least. That rule continues this year, as you’ve mentioned.

  • Semi final winner market open on Betfair, FYI.

  • Random betting relativly newb question: I understand the idea of back-to-lays… but can you guarantee profit by laying-to-back if odds lengthen? I’m too tired to think, ha.

  • eurovicious

    If anyone wants to watch Azerbaijan’s X Factor knockoff “Boyuk Sehne”, which started this week, full episodes are going online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfbnVLOK4Ac It’s quite unintentionally funny. This year they’re using to pick their Eurovision entrant (last year it was just a regular talent show). I see in retrospect that one of the finalists last year got “colour vomit”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RfHVU0A2eo

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