Eurovision 2015: Second semi-final preview

One of the easier things to predict about the second semi-final is the winner. I had been chipping away on Sweden at 1.5 on Betfair over the last month, and it’s a shorter price now. The strength of the package would be enough even without considering its decent slot in the running order and the more western nature of the countries voting in this heat.

One reason I had been backing Sweden was the sense that its main rivals in this heat were overrated. I like Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’ at a personal level but was concerned that it had just scraped through from its national final. After last night’s impressive jury rehearsal, it does look like a definite qualifier, however.

After that, my list of increasing uncertainty doesn’t follow the current qualification market. Going into the highly probable pile is Cyprus, which is a sweet slow song at the right time. I have to put Latvia in here too after an excellent performance last night, though it’s always been one of the most difficult entries for me to predict.

These two are followed by a reasonably probable duo which starts with Lithuania. This is a tremendously accessible song, well performed and there are voting allies to rely on in this semi-final. Meanwhile, Israel is as enjoyable as Serbia’s first heat song, and more credibly performed. I think it will be a televote magnet tonight.

I still haven’t got to 1.1 qualification shots Slovenia and Azerbaijan, whom I think will ultimately progress, but less comfortably than their odds currently indicate. I had actually taken cheap lays of both at those prices before last night’s jury rehearsal. Slovenia’s song has more going for it in televote terms; I can’t see many people relating to Azerbaijan’s effort at all and it’s a relatively friendless semi for them too. But Elnur was impressive vocally last night, so he just about finds a place in my list.

We’re on the borderline now, and there are plenty in with chances. I’ve ended up going with Poland because it ticks enough boxes: a pimp slot with backstory and voting allies. Monika was effective enough for juries last night, though the song itself is pretty dull. My final qualifier comes from the first half where I only have Lithuania and Norway currently qualifying. I can’t rule out Ireland or the Czech Republic, and wouldn’t be surprised to see either qualify, but have gone instead for Montenegro. The song has quality, even if the running order and lack of allies is a concern.

That means my other non-qualifiers are Switzerland, Malta, Iceland, Portugal and San Marino. That means today’s value in the qualification market has to be Iceland not to qualify at 7/4. I’ve always felt the song was overrated, and a borderliner at best. Maria has been unconvincing throughout rehearsals, and whilst there’s been some improvement, she’s still one of the least impressive female performers.

Good luck again with your bets, and do give us your ten qualifiers below.

89 comments to Eurovision 2015: Second semi-final preview

  • Montell

    I’ll just repeat my post from another article.

    At the moment I see most value laying Malta. I’m disappointed with Malta’s performance and I don’t like the song so I think there will be only one warrior in the final. Malta’s main rivals for qualification are Montenegro, Czech Republic and Switzerland. From these four I think jury will favour Montenegro and Czech Republic. Personally I’d like to see Czech Republic in the final because it would encourage them to participate next year. If Marta didn’t choose that shoes throwing gimmick I would even put small stake on their qualification but now I’m not sure. Switzerland has a good draw and I like the song. Also I find Mélanie René very attractive. Those big eyes and beautiful smile, I love it 🙂

    Even though Poland has the pimp slot and Iceland is among friends I think one of them will miss the final but I don’t see value in current prices. I placed my bets on these countries weeks ago.

    So here’s my prediction.

    Lithuania Q
    Ireland NQ
    San Marino NQ
    Montenegro NQ
    Malta NQ
    Norway Q
    Portugal NQ
    Czech Republic Q
    Israel Q
    Latvia Q
    Azerbaijan Q
    Iceland NQ
    Sweden Q
    Switzerland Q
    Cyprus Q
    Slovenia Q
    Poland NQ

  • Montenegro

    Daniel, like you I have been laying Slovenia and Azerbaijan to qualify. I struggle to see where Azerbaijan’s televote will come from and I don’t think it’s guaranteed they’ll be high enough with the juries. I also think the staging for Slovenia could really put juries off. The one I would be tempted to include is Lithuania, but with so much quality in the second half, I think this will be forgotten and I think it will be pretty low on juries’ rankings. Good luck to all.

  • john kef

    My Semi Final 2 estimations are: (Q-NQ/ Finishing Place)

    1. Lithuania NQ / 11-13 (Too cheesy for me- Too plastic)
    2. Ireland NQ / 11-13 ( Nice staging- No connection- Monotonous song)

    3. San Marino NQ / 16-17 ( Dreadful song- Worst Semi slot)
    4. Montenegro Q / 7-10 ( Powerful song- Typical balkan/ethno)

    5. Malta NQ / 14-15 ( No vocals- Mediocre song- Bad slot)

    6. Norway Q / 2 ( Dark but very artistic song- higly appraised by the the non-fans viewers)

    7. Portugal NQ / 16-17 ( Dull – Forgettable- Let’s move on)
    8. Czech Rep. NQ/ 14-15 ( Bad record- No allies- Mediocre song- Siily Gimmick)

    9. Israel Q / 4-6 ( The song that actually opens the 2nd semi- Gives energy and wakes up the crowd)

    10. Latvia Q / 3 ( High quality- Strong voice- Suus of 2015)
    11. Azerbaijan Q / 4-6 ( Strong vocals- Great record)
    12. Iceland Q / 7-10 ( Teen support- Frozen movie staging)
    13. Sweden Q / 1 ( Incredible staging- Winner written all over it)

    14. Switzerland NQ / 11-13 ( Unfortunately after Sweden, will be forgotten- Hope enough people mistakenly vote for Switz-erland and not Swe-den…)

    15. Cyprus Q / 7-10 ( Simple but effective staging)
    16. Slovenia Q / 4-6 ( Lots of hype- Interesting rhythm)
    17. Poland Q / 7-10 ( Pimp slot- Emotional ” viewers blackmail” )

    Since we had no upset in the First Semi, I have a sense that Slovenia might be the surprising non-qualifying song. Just a hunch…

  • Chris Bellis

    Slovenia has the most credible song in the competition, but when you search for it on youtube, you will find a dozen cover versions, some spoofs and some serious, and a few better presented and performed than that of Maraya.. That staging is awful, so I think (unfortunately as I have money on it) your hunch is probably right. There always has to be at least one surprise NQ in Eurovision semi-finals.

  • I’d love Malta not to qualify, but as I’ve written in my own betting piece on ESC Nation – – I just don’t see them missing out in a semi with juries from Azerbaijan, San Marino and Montenegro voting.

    I’m not sure who I would knock out and replace them with. Quite possibly Iceland, or maybe Poland. But I’m more confident about Malta than I am about which entry misses out instead, so my money is there.

    My other bet is on Cyprus for Top 3 – with its draw I think that’s a very strong possibility.

  • I’m not with you on Iceland not to qualify. I think it’ll exceed expectations.

  • Nice write-up Daniel, glad to see you fancy Sweden as I’ve now started chipping away at them in the outrights


    as the Qualifiers fro me… bets bet is Lithuania NQ… I have it as boarder line as opposed to heavy odds-on

    My reasons –>

  • Molly

    Just a quick question. Do we not get the videos the jury sees anymore? I remember seeing loreens 1 where she choked on a feather 🙂

    I think it’s Russia – visually Sweden but I can see Russia win esp with the enchanted cheers, i also like Azerbaijan as a top 3 tonight

  • Sander

    My predictions:

    1. Lithuania Q Stands out as they perform first and until Israel performs the show is kind of a snoozefest. Good happy vibe in the song.

    2. Ireland Q Even with bad staging in 2014 they were in televote top 10. Now I think there will be just enough jury love to push it through in this Western semifinal. If Estonia qualified in 2013 from this slot I think that with similar televote support Ireland could get through.

    3. San Marino NQ for obvious reasons.

    4. Montenegro NQ. In 2014 they only came 7th in a weaker semifinal with a good draw and memorable staging.

    5. Malta Q There always seems to be jury love for Malta. Even in 2011 and 2012. If the televote is half decent I think they can barely make it.

    6. Norway Q. Good song and enough friends.

    7. Portugal NQ for obvious reasons.

    8. Czech Republic NQ based on their history and not likeable looks.

    9. Israel Q up tempo ethnopop though Israel has failed before with better songs I think this is a crowd pleaser.

    10. Latvia NQ though I think the vocals are great and also the staging, there never seems to be love for Latvia and cramped between Israel and Azerbaijan I just can’t see it getting enough televote love.

    11. Azerbaijan Q. They always do and after their bad result last year they will try their best this year to make us forget 2014.

    12. Iceland Q even though i think it’s a ripoff of Denmark 2013 it sounds professional and like a total package. Iceland always are a surprise qualifier to me (2011 and 2014) so this year will be no different.

    13. Sweden Q for obvious reasons.

    14. Switzerland NQ though I really like this song, it comes after azerbaijan, iceland and sweden who I think all will qualify.

    15. Cyprus NQ. No love from Greece, too mellow and bad qualification record.

    16. Slovenia Q. Though I think it will be around 5th or 6th in the semifinal.

    17. Poland Q If you send a half decent song in the pimp slot if will qualify. Only netherlands 2009 failed for obvious reasons and Serbia 2013 just missed out because I think the outfits and staging were a bit weird.

    Just a wild guess of the top 16:

    1. Sweden
    2. Norway
    3. Azerbaijan
    4. Israel
    5. Slovenia
    6. Iceland
    7. Lithuania
    8. Ireland
    9. Poland
    10. Malta

    11. Switzerland
    12. Montenegro
    13. Latvia
    14. Cyprus
    15. Czech Republic
    16. San Marino
    17. Portugal

  • Ben Cook

    Really don’t get why Switzerland is constantly overlooked. It’s a decent enough safe MOR song, that is well staged and a late draw. The camera loves her and she delivers a strong vocal performance. It’s going through.

  • my 10
    Lithuania, Montengro, Malta, Israel, Latvia, Azerbijan, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Poland i no particular order.
    Cyprus and Iceland are the 2 obvious I am omitting. cyprus are plenty short enough and wasnt standing out much in the jury final, felt like a flat spot in the running order.
    Iceland is vocally average at best, and follows 2 stunning vocals in Latvia and Azerbijan, it is noticeable. Then Sweden follows and you are left forgetting an average at best performance.

  • stoney

    After spending most of the last month convinced sweden won’t win ive taken the plunge and backed them to win. Can’t see anyone stopping the visual display despite it being far from the best song

  • chewy wesker

    Semi-Final 2 NQ

    San Marino
    Czech Rep
    And my Tip tonight Would be a lay of Azerbaijan at 1.1
    Good Luck to everyone tonight.

  • Martin F.

    escgo’s “five bets to consider” for tonight’s show:

  • Donald

    Best wishes to all for tonight, I have been much too busy to participate properly the past few days on the semis but I will get to watch again tonight, I don’t play unless totally up to speed so will sit and watch, maybe play a little,

    Thanks to Daniel for great tweets which make catch up little easier but of course the articles and comments take time..

    Daniel has done STELLAR job all week. it’s a ot of work ! all my win top 10’s etc for Saturday still all running as originally placed so will be back in the Sofabet zone tomorrow.

    PS. I not a Sweden fan really this year, let’s see tonight, pity they didn’t send the “dollys” Euroviciuos would have had a ball.and Sweden a better chance of winning I reckon, might eat those words yet and change my mind but that where I am.

  • Sweden won ESC 2015, Congrats.

  • Natasha

    Sweden failed to impress IMO. It didn’t make much of an impact. Am I on my own here? :/

    • No. Israel got as much or more response in the (international, largely hetero) crowd at the Eurovision village, and a friend watching at home also thought Israel came over better – I’ve made my feelings on Golden Boy clear, but it has energy and spontaneity that Mans’s routine doesn’t have room for. To me, Bojana, Loic and Nadav are the breakout characters of this year’s contest.

      • Natasha

        He had no stage presence, he can’t sing for shit and the only exciting thing about watching was the light show, which, seems to only be there to mask how bad the performance is. To me, the light show doesn’t bear much revelance to what he is actually singing about.

        ‘Building bridges’ is the title of this years eurovision competition and along with other justifiable factors, it’s Russia for me. Not overly confident about them winning though :/

  • Simon 'Le Chat'

    ESTONIA to win for me. Russia and Sweden to be placed. Cyprus deffo to qualify

  • Yeah, Sweden seemed a bit av didn’t they?

    Looking forward to Sat. Come on Polina!

  • chewy wesker

    Well done Daniel 10/10 very good call on iceland

  • annie

    Hey Everyone.
    I used t be an avid follower of the show and sofabet, but this year simply too many things got in the way.
    Still I watched 1st semi and did a follow up on the 2nd and will definitely watch tomorrow.
    Looking at the fresh and crispy running order this morning it’s safe to say that there really isn’t anyone looking like taking away the trophy from Polina, it looks like a russian victory, right? (which would be fitting since I find the whole show so 2009…)

  • Natasha

    Sweden perform 10th and Australia 12th in the running order.

    Russia perform in slot number 25 and Italy get the pimp slot

    Going by this, surely it’s a 2 horse race between Italy and Russia right? Who, are also top 4 in the betting.

    • Alen

      Well at least we know Estonia def has no chance now (not that I believed they ever really had).

      But Sweden still has a shot but I’m surprised that they put Australia higher than Sweden. That either means: Sweden didn’t impress too much on the voting or it did impress and they want a tighter contest so they are spreading them out.

      Belgium got the pimp slot from the first half which tells me he indeed did end up in the top3 in the first semi. Although I’m not sure if coming after Australia will be as helpful to him.

      Russia def. has a shot now, they will stand out in the sea of ballads in the second half which is also helped by the very late performance. I’ve always been torn with Italy and I just can’t judge it. I like the verses but hate the chorus. I do think Jurys will absolutely go mad for it though.

      I wonder though, won’t people get tired close to the end of running order and already have decided who their winner is? Meaning Russia and Italy may be harmed (just a little though).

      I think they did pretty much what they could with the running order but I’m secretly laughing that it bit them in the ass with pretty much splitting up the uptempos and ballads in two halfs 🙂

      If I remember correctly Heroes is doing better on itunes already than RUS/BEL/EST did after their semis. Not too surprising but I really wonder how juries will like it.

  • Anthony

    Visual projections and gimmicks revealed. Now it’s time to listen to the songs. Norway surely provides the music; Italy the voices and Australia the longevity. Sweden remains tediously soulless and increasingly robotic. Måns must be doing his act in his sleep!

  • stoney

    Someone please correct me if im wrong but im sure the ‘pimp slot’ doesn’t have quite the same inpact on ESC as it does on X factor/BGT

    • dicksbits

      I think that’s correct: especially in a contest of 27 songs.

    • Montell

      Pimp slot in the semi has huge impact. No doubts about that. In the final I think it depends on 3-4 songs before you. If they are average and your song outshines them then it’s very good. Otherwise I think it doesn’t help because people already have their favorites selected.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Last year’s Top 5 in the public split of the vote performed 11th, 24th, 7th, 13th and 9th.

    I think that performing last in such a large field may not be as good as in a show like X Factor, with 10-12 acts, as Mollie found out last year.

    With so many songs, I believe it’s more important to stand out and be remembered. I’m sure people will be talking about “the one with the little cartoon man” at the end of the show.

  • Cards on the table for me…

    I backed Sweden at 2.92 last night and dumped most of my red with a lay at 2.74 after they sung (why didn’t I do it at 2.38?)

    At the same time i backed Russia at 6.XX, however Sweden were my biggest green.

    Woke up this morning, looked at the draw and then the market… So flipped my positions on Sweden and Russia

    Russia are now my biggest green, and I don’t see that changing… it’s still a two horse race for me… Reverse Forecast of Sweden/Russia may be a decent bet

  • Russia has a killer Youtube view count plus the song is really goosebump compared to the Sweden entry. Really hard to see them not winning the whole thing. I think Italy will suffer just after the Russian entry and the popopera thing has never been a cup of tea for everyone.

    • Ron

      Don’t be too swayed by Russia’s YouTube view count. They have the largest population (146 million), and much of the song’s biggest appeal is from former Soviet countries, not Europe in general.

  • Alen

    i know youtube views are not everything but these are the views after 11 hours on the official page:

    sweden 88.578
    israel 72.235
    poland 69.203
    lithuania 65.334
    azerbaijan 60.968
    latvia 46.354
    slovenia 41.964
    montenegro 37.442
    portugal 21.043
    norway 19.830
    ireland 17.743
    cyprus 17.630
    malta 17.322
    iceland 17.098
    czech republic 13.869
    switzerland 12.443
    san marino 9.460

    especially surprised with norway though……maybe not the big hit? or maybe people just didn’t find it re-watchable.

    • Russia meanwhile had around 270.000 by next morning and around 4 times more than second best. This is something.

    • Alen

      and here are the views from semi 1 which obviously had more days to build up:

      russia 2.839.258
      serbia 940.702
      belgium 923.600
      georgia 665.682
      estonia 630.304
      greece 505.454
      albania 468.188
      armenia 347.814
      the netherlands 344.504
      romania 315.358
      hungary 264.455
      finland 258.863
      belarus 205.956
      moldova 194.320
      fyrom 174.651
      denmark 138.731

      russia almost tripple the views from the second place lol

  • Natasha

    Does anyone know how Russia are doing on itunes compared to the other market leaders?

  • WILD-CARD: Poland. My sister raised the question, will they get the sympathy vote?

  • annie

    after that running order, weighing in all the rest (iTunes, YT counts etc) Polina has to really screw up something tonight not to win. All her so far competition is worst off, Italy will be in her shadow, a post climactic-pre toilet test of patience. I say russia 2016 #bringiton

    and the whole competition feels to mee like 2008 anyways 🙂

    • annie

      …though Im keeping my fingers crossed for Belgium 🙂

    • Interesting that you reference 2008
      Sweden enter a song called Hero that year and finished 18th
      Whilst Russia won it with a song called “Believe”
      How many time’s is “Believe” said in this years entry

      • annie

        i wasnt as involved this year as in previous years, Im more of a casual viewer (with some sofabet wisdom in my stash 😉 ), and the same was valid for 2008… so that might influence my perception but I have the same feeling about the overall song quality/trends of contenders. i was truly busy this spring but another reason I think I didnt get to involved with esc is because I didnt really find songs that I found interesting/oustanding and the last time this happened was in 2008.

  • Alen

    I still think Sweden will win televote, Jury might go for Italy and a third one could end up winning overall (Belgium or Russia), similiar to 2011.

  • Enrico

    belgium 7.6 now whats going on??

  • Ben Cook

    I almost hope Italy win just to prove wrong the ridiculous idea that singing last is a curse. If Netherlands can come 2nd from 24th, I see no reason why you can’t win from 25th or 27th.

    • Ron

      It’s not impossible (especially for a strong song), but with 27 songs this year, it’s going to be a big ask to expect viewers will remain alert and attentive right till the end.

  • Natasha

    Very interesting. Just watched This Morning and good old Rylan was talking Eurovision. All talk was about Australia and also how Russia were the favourites? No mention of Sweden whatsoever

  • Les

    As Enrico noticed above, why have Belgium’s odds suddenly come right in?

    • Ben Cook

      Because they gave it the latest slot possible, which suggests it may have done well in the semi. It’s also doing well on iTunes across Europe.

  • stoney

    Sod it ive taken the plunge on belguim. Massive odds movement last 24 hours. Someone knows something

    • Reminds me of Ben Haenow’s sudden price crash on the Saturday morning of the X Factor final, which of course held prophecies that later came true.

    • The draw was published, with Belgium on a perfect 13th. This means:

      1. He has as good a draw as was possible.
      2. He very likely either won or was at least top3 in his semi – and than from 3rd pos, and with almost no friends.

      No secrets needed for a massive shortening after that public info.

  • annie

    in my perception, though I havent made any numeric calculations, Belgium seems to do equally well on ITunes in both east and west. his top 30-50 seem just a bit more evened out between east/west as Russia or even Sweden? not sure..
    and maybe because its a bit more innovative than russia, estonia and even sweden juries were kind to it and did rather well?

  • Ron H.

    I believe the running order has turned the competition into a four horse race as shown currently in the odds:

    Best shot at the title:
    – Russia (great visual and vocal performance, impressive itunes-sales, combined with the best draw of the whole field of favourites, but with anti-Russian sentiment in western countries going against it)
    – Sweden (best audio-visuals, excellent performance, impressive itunes-sales. Being followed in the running order by both Australia and Belgium is not an advantage though. IMO Australia and Belgium at the end of the day have better ‘songs’)

    Closely followed by:
    – Italy (Impressive song, but not sure if this kind of music is appealing to voters all over Europe. The pimp slot is a good position but in my opinion also a risk in Eurovision with a field of 25 or more competitors. Over the years I experienced viewers get restless during the last song and once they lose interest, they head for the bathrooms just to make sure they don’t miss the interval act.)
    – Belgium (Contemporary song, very interesting modern performance. Jury’s may reward this. Also the best slot of all favourites in the first half. I’m happy I backed Belgium, based on itunes-sales, long before the drop of odds today.)

    Apart from these Australia and Estonia are on my list of countries with a chance at the title and I took a defensive approach against a Spanish surprise. For what I’ve seen the Spanish act looks more than impressive.

  • Mark Dowd

    UK are 7-2 favourites to come last with Ladbrokes. Realistic? Or taking advantage of anti-patriotic doom-mongers??

  • Ben Cook

    I’d bet on Poland coming last. Probably only just sneaked through due to pimp slot and it’s just going to get lost in a sea of ballads. We’ll pick up a few points here and there.

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