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.