This article is not looking to predict positive surprises on the scoreboard come May 10, but rather positive surprises in the betting market by the day of the final. Which acts are longer odds now than they will be in a month?
This is a vital consideration for those looking to play the market as a trader. Traders back at longer odds and lay at shorter odds in the hope of guaranteeing a profit either way, or at least giving themselves a free run.
The market can move in mysterious ways, but there are perennial factors that influence it in the contest build-up. I consider some of them below as a way of speculating on the likeliest market springers.
1. Eurovision in Concert and other promotional events
The market reacted strongly to last weekend’s Amsterdam event, with hot favourite Armenia on the drift and the hero’s welcome granted to Conchita Wurst seeing Austria come down to tenth place in the win market.
It may be a case of history repeating itself when the same two artists appear on stage this Sunday at the London equivalent. One can only assume they will give facsimile performances with a largely facsimile reaction by punters.
2. Fan Polls
The OGAE are Eurovision fan organisations in each country. Their individual polls will drip through in the coming weeks. We know only a few so far, with Sweden early leaders. There is always a remarkable correlation between their votes, and it seems likely that ‘Undo’ will continue to head the pack.
Online polls that punters take note of come from escnation and escstats (see the pre-chart’14 tab). The latter has Sweden leading from Hungary and the UK, the former has the UK leading Sweden. The UK also scores well in two of the three early OGAE results.
The proof of how a song will be staged, and how well it’s coming across in rehearsals, can cause big shifts in the ante-post market. Last year, Azerbaijan’s innovative show saw an immediate drop in price. Who will be the 2014 equivalent?
In truth, the beauty of rehearsals is it could be anyone. Still, Farid’s box was the brainchild of Fokas Evangelinos, a master of Eurovision staging who’s also brought to light Ani Lorak’s ‘Shady Lady’, and the winning ‘My Number One’ routine. His worst result is seventh (with a giant Greek stapler), and he is masterminding the Russian staging this year, for which we already have a clue with stand-in performers
Ukraine are past masters of the before and after extreme makeover. Having thought Mariya’s sneak preview on the small Amsterdam stage looked busy in the venue, it could easily come into its own when properly showcased on TV from Copenhagen. The upbeat entries do have more licence – although that can go either way.
4. News stories during Eurovision week
It’s worth speculating where the focus of attention will be during the week itself. This is when plenty of new punters get involved in betting on the contest, bringing with them a new perspective. Publicity garners their attention and can see odds drop. Krista’s “controversial” lesbian kiss did just that for Finland last year.
This year there are two likely headliners. Individually the focus looks most likely to be on Austria’s Conchita Wurst, and more broadly it will be on Ukraine and Russia in competition against each other. I expect plenty of column inches for both stories, and my guess is that Austria and Ukraine’s odds will drop as a result.
5. The British (and Irish) bias
Betfair and many other betting sites are British companies serving a largely British and Irish clientele. The betting culture is widespread in both countries. This means market strength for British and Irish entries if they appear to have a chance. The late gamble on Jedward’s 2011 effort was one of the biggest in recent memory.
It seems remarkable now, but in 2012 the British public placed tens of thousands of pounds at High Street bookies on Engelbert Humperdinck winning. These bookmakers then hedged their liabilities by backing Engelbert on Betfair, with punters such as myself taking on their bets and the risk of big losses if the UK won.
It seems safe to say that the British press will be hyping Molly’s chances this year, and that means a likely drop in price on the big day. As a footnote, it will be interesting to see how much interest there is in Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, well enough known in the UK from her X Factor run.
Guessing the market can be a fool’s errand, but the three countries that have more than one honourable mention here are the UK, Ukraine and Austria. They seem the most sensible suggestions as potential market springers. What do you think? Let us know where you reckon the market goes from here.