Blog: Our First Bet To Win Eurovision 2023
This year is going to be a great one for the Eurovision gambler. Liverpool as host city is going to get tons of pre show interest and the British-based bookies will be offering tons of specials for this year's show that us experts can exploit. While I wasn't the fan of Liverpool's bid in terms of arena, meaning many thousands of fans will miss out on tickets without justification, Liverpool City Council did the best promo job of lifting the profile of the show and that will help carry media interest and with it betting interest.
The interest is high enough that we have a Eurovision win market available already at this early date. In recent years it has been Sweden, Russia and maybe Italy as the early favourites at around 11.0. That felt right, these nations have felt roughly four times more likely than the others to win the Song Contest. But last year wasn't a normal year and it is looking more and more likely that 2023 will not be a normal year either.
Invasion On The Agenda
Another PR win of the Liverpool bid above the others in the UK was how big they were making it clear it was Ukraine's victory in ways that even the BBC has been quiet to acknowledge.
The size of Ukraine's victory last year was off the scale and was 'worse' than at least the public ESC betting community had expected. I had 550 points as my expected Ukraine score (150 jury, 350 televote), slightly lower perhaps than the average Eurovision gambler but certainly within others margin of error. The size of Ukraine’s eventual landslide surprised me, especially so in the huge gap to 2nd/3rd place which weren't in the same ballpark in televoting in what was a weak year with a top 4 that ran streets ahead of the rest.
Ukraine started this year’s betting odds of favourites, with the shortest odds I have seen at this stage ever of 3.0 available with Skybet and more. Is that value? Are Ukraine 12 times more likely that the average nation to win Eurovision?
To this day the number of Eurovision fans that voted for Ukraine can I name with the fingers on one hand, but clearly those more casual to the Contest turned out in droves. For me it is completely unpredictable to anticipate if they will turn out the same way, partly this is due to the unknown nature of the Russian invasion but also if the same solidarity with Ukraine will remain across the continent after a cold winter.
I also expect that Ukraine’s three minutes of music is going to be heavily flavoured by the current invasion, as far as the rules for political lyrics possibly allow. Ukraine has done so tastefully in the past, as Alina Pash and Jamala demonstrated. But there is danger here that something too upfront about the situation could turn off voters who don’t want to be preached at. It’s a fine line between getting the mood right and wrong which will be more important for round two.
It is a line that we will likely find out early. The first National Final of the year is scheduled to be the Ukrainian one on December 17th. I assume the date moved earlier to allow the winning act to tour the continent all spring to squeeze every possible drop of soft power out of Eurovision participation. Could the first song of the season be the winning song of the season? Hard to say and there's a chance that the community may try and gamble against Ukraine when the song invariably sounds off-kilter to western pop fans and cause early trading value.
Yet it would be a brave trader to take an early position against Ukraine. You all know the narrative will all be about how the 2023 show should be in Ukraine but isn’t and how the nation would love to actually get their fair right to host. Should they stay favourites the PR games of Odesa, twinned with Liverpool, to claim their preparedness to host will be intense. A unique quirk in Eurovision voting compared to other reality shows is that, with 26 or 27 songs in the final, you can win the televote with a very small televote percentage, and as such another Ukraine/not-Ukraine narrative could divide the voters and see another landslide appear in the votes. Then we are relying on juries, or Ukraine just-so-happening to randomly get drawn 2nd, to save us from Ukraine doing the double.
I choose to remain neutral to Ukraine at the early stages this year and try and react more to the mood of the continent to the nation rather than song as the months progress, however hard that may be.
The Tip Isn't Ukraine
The far less brave thing to do would be to ignore the war in Ukraine and take a few long shots that could offer some e/w value, which is available at 1/5 of the odds top 4 or 1/4 odds top 3 with the current high street bookies. That is especially good to recommend again this year with Ukraine’s short price pushing out some early odds into positions we have never seen this early.
Romania at 201 with Betfair Sportsbook is a good example of the type of nation that could accidentally hit gold, and possesses diaspora active enough to challenge Ukraine for 12’s in some localities. Same applies to 2022 televote top-2 Moldova (201 with William Hill) which I worry could also be dragged into an ongoing conflict in the region.
However the 201 shot that I want to mention, that I have opened up my book with, is Israel. It is a mistake that the bookies have this so far down the pecking order.
For a start the nation is one of the strongest in modern times with only one NQ since 2015 and of course the win of ‘Toy’ in 2018. This is a country that stages a Eurovision song better than the average nation and also generally has the budget to back up those presentation skills.
This year that budget could be endless. The decision to allow the nation’s biggest pop star Noa Kirel complete freedom to come up with the song and staging for three minutes of pop perfection was simply too good to turn down. She’s a quality performer and a natural actress - I note it positive for Eurovision that her songs usually have more music video views than they do Spotify streams. Noa has that Je Ne Sais Quoi which is captivating, likeable and while maybe not Chanel level Noa can sing and dance in cheoregopeaphy as well as the rest of them.
Noa Kirel is an internal selection, high-risk yet high-reward, but everything so far suggests a serious attempt for the crown is coming from Israel this year. Few nations will be bringing somebody as current, as popular, and as experienced as Noa Kirel despite her 21 years of age. Compare directly to Cyprus internally selecting the last place act from Australia Decides, this is the equivalent of sticking Mbappe in a match alongside League Two opposition. As long as the song is good enough nothing is going to stop Noa being in every jury and televote top 10.
If you can still get a few quid on Israel at anything above 100 I would fully recommend it. At worst as other countries release songs it is almost certain that Israel will creep up the odds table and provide trading opportunities to cash out. Should Ukraine send something unbeatable even just grabbing the e/w portion on this (40-1 top 4!) is likely to be something to keep hold of until May. Should Ukraine pick a disaster in December then you'll be laughing here. Sweden and Italy sit high (11.0 and 10.0 respectively) because they guarantee each year to bring a quality act. I've seen enough of Noa Kirel's back catalogue to say that the guaranteed quality will be there and Israel should sit alongside Sweden, Italy as the best of the rest in the market.
Odds like this have clearly been set by somebody who’s not a Eurovision expert and isn’t checking the latest news. This happens every year but a British Eurovision, with more betting opportunities and more odds-setting newbies, means such errors should be happening with more frequency this year.
Stay sharp and look out for the bookies' mistakes and take advantage. There will not be a better year for a generation to do so.