Nearly four years ago, the first articles I wrote on Sofabet were my ten top tips for betting on Eurovision. Given that these still feature in the banner of the site, I thought it was time to revisit them to see which ones were most in need of an update.
The biggest update comes out of last year’s rule change requiring the full ranking of all songs by televoters and jurors to be taken into account, rather than just the top ten of each. This was initially covered here, and given further thought in my analysis of Anouk’s ‘Birds’.
The rule change significantly negates the premise of my seventh top tip about the public vote mattering most despite the 50/50 split. Let’s take the Spanish points to Romania over the last two years as an example.
Romanians are the largest foreign group in Spain; we can safely assume that Romania has recently been topping the Spanish televote. However, the Romanian songs of 2012 and 2013, ‘Zaleilah’ and ‘It’s My Life’ were largely a flop with national juries.
In 2012, before the rule change, Romania received 12 points from Spain in the semi-final and 10 points in the final. Topping the televote was enough to still see Romania receive high scores, even taking into consideration a jury top ten in which they may not have figured at all.
In 2013, with the jury ranking all the songs from first to last, Romania received just 1 point from Spain in the semi-final and 0 in the final. Topping the televote counted for virtually nothing because juries clearly placed Cezar near the bottom of their rankings.
Incidentally, the effect of this makes a bigger difference in a final of 26 songs than a semi-final of 15 songs which Romania finds itself in for 2014. (Spain is not voting in the second semi-final, but Italy is, where Romania dominates the televote for much the same reason.)
So, the public vote no longer matters most. In fact, the five-member jury arguably has more power, because they’re small enough to introduce an element of tactical voting. For example, if jurors are aware of a large diaspora televote in their country, they can knowingly counteract it should they so wish.
Elsewhere among these top tip articles, number four on song styles also feels out-of-date. In 2010, cheesy schlager (an upbeat, Abba-esque, traditional Eurovision sound, often with key change) had long given way to an era of ethnopop. But the latter has not fared so well with juries of late, as the likes of ‘Aphrodisiac’ in 2012 and ‘Solayoh’ in 2013 have shown.
Admittedly, neither of these examples was particularly well performed and they featured less than stellar vocals. I’ve tried to find a pattern in jury tastes each year, but it’s less than a science. For example, they largely seemed to favour English language songs in 2013, but gave plenty of love to non-English language ballads in 2012.
Still, if I was consulting national delegations on what jurors generally looked for, I would say: good vocals and a vaguely contemporary, middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly song showing musicianship, maybe with instruments on stage. Oh yes, and throw in a few contemporary-style dance moves too – it seemed to work well for Sweden 2012, Moldova 2013 and Sweden 2013. The juries don’t seem to like: poor vocals as well as fluffy, thin, novelty and more leftfield songs.
The other top tips articles have held up reasonably well, and I largely stand by what’s in them. Looking at footage of the songs being performed throughout the run-up to the event, before and during rehearsals and indeed in the semi-finals, remains crucial. Viewing objectively and trying to put personal bias aside likewise.
The article listing the utility and dangers of following blogs during rehearsals also stands. Since 2010 these have mushroomed, and there are now three sites at the venue covering rehearsals solely from a betting viewpoint: this one, Esctips and EntertainmentOdds – all boosted by an excellent array of commenters.
So there’s plenty of advice, which makes it even more important to come to your own conclusion. If you find yourself disagreeing with the herd, don’t despair. In fact, it can be taken as an opportunity. At various points over the last four years, commenters have had occasion to say, “I think you’re wrong on this point, and I know you’re backing it heavily, which means there’s value to be had in my opposing opinion.”
It’s an approach I wholeheartedly endorse and try to follow myself.
The growing interest in betting on the contest means that getting ahead of the curve with the timing of your bets is in some ways more of a challenge, but it also helps liquidity on betting exchanges. And those exchanges, notably Betfair, have become increasingly important to me in the last four years.
That’s because laying certain songs I feel are overhyped has been a source of much of my profits in this period – identifying the “fanwank” songs and betting against them in various markets. Don’t just look to do this in the win market, there are a plethora of more lucrative ways of doing it at shorter odds: laying to win or place or even qualify in the semi-final, in the final top 4 or top 10 markets, or taking it on where you can in match bets.
The other two top tip articles reference the importance of visual impact and the draw. I think the last few years have confirmed both. ‘Only Teardrops’ was staged like a winner, whilst ‘Euphoria’ had tremendous visual as well as aural appeal.
Meanwhile, since 2010 the winners have been drawn at 22, 19, 17 and 18. In every semi during this period, at least four out of the last six songs have qualified. It’s worth bearing in mind that since last year, producers decide the running order for themselves once a first-half or second-half berth has been drawn. Last year they timidly gave all the market leaders pretty favourable slots in the final.
Do let us know what you think of these points, how your strategies have evolved given the rule changes and what you have learnt in recent years.