Blog: Whatever Each Way
For the BetEurovision team there has been one mantra as we have progressed through this particular Eurovision season.
Each way punts.
This is more true than ever for this year and more than any other tip in the plethora of bets available for the Eurovision Final, our general advice is you should bet each way in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
Now we have articles on the site about each way betting but this year it has been a huge part of the team strategy and with that our book has an unusual twist this year.
Our expected return on investment (a statistical measure of how much profit we would make based on current odds and money put in) is much better for the Top 4 and Top 5 markets compared to our investment than the winner's market.
There's one key reason for this.
Once all the songs got selected for Eurovision and circumstances created the playing field that Ukraine was the favorite to win Eurovision 2022, each way value kicked in. While Ukraine hovered around the 2.0 mark, most bookies offered a 1/4 odds top 4 as an e/w stake.
This provided good value for the e/w portion for those immediately outside of this. How come? Well we as a team have been fairly confident all year that the market has been generally accurate, and are today. There have been a smattering of good songs at the top of a generally weak field that by and large have stayed in their place in the market. For us we are expecting the likes of Italy, Sweden, UK, and Spain to do well in the final table with decent jury and televote scores. Maybe they don't win, and maybe we get one or two of these wrong, but the idea that the top 4 doesn't contain at least 2, and more likely 3 of these entries is the consensus of the betting community, not just us. Looking at the betting market today is insane on the exchanges, with only 5 songs at odds under 100.
We all appear very confident at who should be at the front of the pack in the way I have never seen before. This is the point when you as a reader should consider if the betting community is better than before or if we are all completely off in our own echo chamber. Have we overhyped the theory that these four songs are the only contenders because we believe they are only four that can possibly get +200 in jury and televote?
Because the Ukraine price has been so short there has been relatively great value on these in the e/w market. The top 4 portion of the bet you see has been based on the winning odds. But generally that section has better value than what the market believes (if one compares to the top 4/5 markets on the exchanges), sometimes by double the last matched price.
This only got better as Ukraine shortened to odds on. However it was at this point that most of the high street bookies adjusted their e/w value. Instead they were offering 1/6 odds top 4 or even 1/5 odds top 3! While that sounds like shocking deals that Unibet and Paddy Power are offering, actually they do accurately reflect the market more often than not. Check carefully before you place a bet this weekend.
Time for a shout out and that goes to the only remaining bookie today that still offers 1/4 top 4. That is Bet365 (this is not a sponsored post) and while sometimes they aren’t offering the best value on the pure win market the Ukraine situation is so uncertain it’s the top 4 section that we are looking for. As long as the win price is close to the market value (generally just slightly under the Betfair exchange) you are almost certainly getting great value on the other side. We recommend anyone looking for a flutter today to use e/w at these terms (if the price is good) partly for insurance against Ukraine's unknown televote potential and also because the chasing pack might end up close to each other in an exciting finale.
Plus there is the bonus of the possibility of a win portion of a bet being there as well and at what we think are very competitive prices. As Ukraine kept tumbling it was clear to us that the market moves weren't being triggered on the whole by the Eurovision community but instead by others - the type of casuals for whom ESC = Politics - those Joe Bloggs' whose two cents have been that Ukraine sympathy will be enough. And it bloody could be enough, but odds on for this folk rap hybrid is absurd.
I was present at Monday night's jury performance and it was telling how polite and dignified the applause was for Ukraine. It felt like people's duty to clap along and when the rap section and dance breakdown came in ‘Stefania’ the sympathy didn’t translate to hysteria. I repeat - it got a big reaction, but not one that people invested in. That was even more notable in the Jury Final on Friday with Ukraine 10th on the ESCXtra press poll and about 9 other songs getting bigger cheers during the recap. Odds on favourites don't suffer this.
Ukraine’s stats from Semi Final One are on the face of it the highest, with YouTube views notably double any other video that appeared that night. Be careful coming to conclusions with that. Ukraine has a big population which does use YouTube intensively and has been high on YouTube views in similar instances in previous years.
I also note that the comments on that video (sample size of 50 most recent new comments on Thursday) are 50 % in the Cyrillic script, mostly Ukrainian or pro Ukrainian messages from Russia/Belarus (I guess this is one of the few ways any sympathy can be demonstrated), and quite a few of the English language messages also are from Ukrainians. In terms of streaming and downloads Stefania is amongst the others at the top of the pack rather than in the mix.
A sympathy vote likely exists and the problem for us is that it is of indeterminable size but actually what we need to think about more is the newly formed diaspora vote - the millions of displaced Ukrainians are likely to be very incentivised to vote for their home country this year. Sadly in terms of the Eurovision scoreboard, most are concentrated in Poland, with over 3,000,000 refugees there today. A further noteworthy stat is that Hungary and Slovakia have also taken in large numbers, with hundreds of thousands also in Russia and Belarus. These four nations are ones which are not taking part this year. Poland, Romania and Moldova may give sky high Ukrainian points, but that’s only 36 points.
Those that would sympathy vote for a Ukrainian act may not shout on Twitter or YouTube about it but the running order doesn’t give them an obvious moment in the show that Semi Final One provided - Italy and Spain minutes before are the moments of the first half. The consensus in the community is about 350 points for Ukraine from the televote, with a danger of breaking 400 (10 points per nation). I am tempted to say that I am edging my expectations less than that with each passing day, and I realise that is a brave thing to say. Moldova might be the regional curveball we also need to knock off some of those votes Ukraine may be expected to receive.
I also have reservations for the jury vote after the qualifiers were revealed. The qualifiers are very heavily weighted to the juries with a plethora of ballads and well sung performances making it into the show. The more jury friendly songs there are the more Ukraine may get pushed down, and if the juries do at least agree on the top few then this increases the distance between the leaders and Ukraine. Furthermore there’s a new quirk that started last year that could be important for the juries, their anonymity. We do not know the names of the jurors in all countries currently, and we can’t tell from the official data from last year which juror was which was each nations’ score. There’s been an expectation in the community that jurors would want to be seen to give votes to Ukraine, and I spotted in EuroJury that Ukraine’s score/jury was higher than score/juror - suggesting smaller juries where each juror was more visible gave more points to Ukraine (the United Kingdom had this effect as well, speculate away).
If jurors are more anonymous in the modern system does each juror feel less obligation to give Ukraine points than otherwise? Perhaps. I still think many juries will try and engineer a score to ensure they receive a low number of points from each country regardless, and 4 points/country is the expectation from myself for Ukraine's jury score at the moment.
Before rehearsals I had Ukraine, Italy and the United Kingdom looking at the 500 point barrier, and asking who is getting 550. Ukraine can get a ticking over jury score to do it and then a record televote but we don’t see it as the 1.5 or less shot the odds demonstrate which much unknown. Italy hasn’t done anything to warrant a boost and while I know I have underestimated Italian televotes before this doesn’t seem like anything for a casual to get involved with, Mahmood and Blanco appear pedestrian at the wrong time this season, but the drift size is too high as the demographics that will vote for this are far more than the Eurovision bubble and they are still odds on for the top 4.
The glow up with ‘Space Man’ is surreal and that last minute, with the enormous notes and the addition of the electric guitar gives me vibes I haven’t felt since Salvador Sobral took to the stage. In this competition you vote for a character and Sam Ryder is the character of the 25 and with the running order to boost. Drawn second half really stands out and he will be the moment in slot 22.
Yes the UK has zero guaranteed votes but neither did Portugal and Israel in recent years. I’m expecting a bunch of 24 points from northern Europe and while it is still hyperbolic to see as a winner there’s nothing else so likeable than Sam Ryder’s stage presence. For those liking narrative there is nothing more British than having Europe hate us for stopping Ukraine’s victory parade. Usually we would talk about the UK odds being inflated by patriotic money but on the ground in Turin it was me having to dampen down the expectations of Swedes and Dutch fans willing to just hand over the trophy across the English Channel. I have never heard this crazy talk before.
And while this is a blog to say that e/w is a brilliant value this year for placing parts of the bet on the top 5 or 6 in the odds, to remind you of the confidence the betting market has in these songs being top 4 and that there’s a hack to get yourself some value there.
There’s another reason why as well. While I admit that Ukraine should be favourite I think the market has overestimated the sympathy and the refugee impact on the voting. Juries will ensure this isn’t a landslide and a record score from televoters is not currently expected. The United Kingdom has the obvious jury appeal and I argue it has the televote appeal as well, so it is the obvious tip (a TikTok video on how to vote from our man Sam published yesterday finally cracked the algorithm and is in eight figures for views), but any good value e/w bet on the big guns I would not talk anybody out of.
Whether you are at home or in Turin, enjoy the show all, whatever each way you choose to.