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Eurovision 2021: The 1000-1 Outsiders

We now have all the songs in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. My personal feel for the 2021 show is that it is good overall, but perhaps without the true 10/10 showstoppers at the top of the tree. The two favourites at the current time of writing, Malta and Switzerland, are songs we have not yet seen in a live performance (yes ok, we saw Switzerland sing acoustically, but we can assume much different with a live performance...I hope).

I also feel this year's Song Contest is full of a deluge of no-hopers. And the gulf between the good, worthy, and the waste-of-timers is as wide as it has ever been in the jury/televote era. That means there's been quite a few countries in the Eurovision betting market that you can realistically get at 1000-1.

Bold statement here, but some of these no hopers I think have been wrongly categorised. Some of those seemingly chanceless are worthy of keeping an eye on. Maybe not in the win market, but elsewhere, and I certainly have expectations of one of these coming through the pack nearer the time. Each of the 14 countries in this list has matched at 1000-1 this season, and if you are looking for your Leicester City story of the year then here it is.

How to get 1000-1

Traditional bookmakers rarely offer such long odds on any in the Song Contest. After all, remember this is entertainment betting and bookies are not keeping their eyes on all the movements and drama, so the chance of them offering four figure odds are slim.

The best way to get 1000-1 is to use the Betfair Exchange. There are a cluster of countries with very high three figure back odds sitting on the exchange currently. I'll use Albania as my example. Albania at the moment is available for a small amount of cash at odds of 820. However there is no lay available (the red column).

To get 1000-1 in this scenario, click on the 820 available to bet on Albania, but don't accept that. Change the odds from 820 to 1000, the maximum Betfair's Exchange allows on this market. Then enter your stake and press confirm.

Within seconds, your bet will appear in the red column, waiting for somebody to match you.

Below I will list those countries where being matched at 1000-1 has happened (ok yes, technically it is 999-1, but that doesn’t sound as good...), what the current odds are (back/lay) and what the world's best scenario could be for you wanting to chase the longest of long shots.

Armenia (1000/- -)

They have withdrawn, do not bet. Be careful of this on the exchange, the exchange does not remove them from the market like a traditional bookie would, as money was traded on Armenia before their withdrawal.

The odds of 1000s on Armenia are basically giving money from you to those rich enough on the exchange to lock away thousands of pounds against Armenia in case someone drunkenly presses the wrong button when they meant Albania. Don't be that person.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Certain

Worth it? Absolutely not

Belarus (1000/-)

We assume after the EBU disqualified their first song, and their second song, that they will just withdraw. The broadcaster still seems to be claiming they want in though. Best chance of success is for a complete regime change in Belarus, but seeing as though we have a running order now, it’s too late. Same rules apply as to Armenia above.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Certain

Worth it? Absolutely not

Albania (820/-)

Karma will be staged by Sasha Jean Babtiste and they make Anxhela appear as a stunning princess that dazzles, making it the moment of the night, with an Albanian esque jury note thrown in the mix.

Even with all that potential the song Karma would still appeal only to the same groups that other Albanian entries have done, and be on the cusp of the top 10. Reality though means this will be a tough sell even to qualify. It’s too much of everything that Albanian entries have failed with previously to recommend.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Very likely

Worth it? No

Slovenia (620/990)

As the only pure ballad Amen slides through the semi like others previous, and the pre recorded gospel choir mesmerises juries and is top of the pile come the end of jury votes to your big excitement as you jump up and down with glee and the money you’ll be making.

But then the televote comes in, and, to nobody’s surprise, Ana does a Benjamin Ingrosso and you end up just outside the top 10.

There's a chance this year for an inexplicable jury choice to emerge from the pack, but I think this package doesn't look right and is too clunky (not in a Fredrik Kempe good way either) to go anywhere. The reasoning for Matthew Ker in the recent episode of Juke Box Jury suggested to me that jurors would be critical to this. Qualifying (4.6/5.9) is already a battle from 2nd in the running order - and those odds seem fair.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Decent

Worth it? Small possibility of trading potential, otherwise no

Estonia (670/-)

Uku Suviste's best chance comes from model-like good looks and Dream Team staging that gives him the gimmick of the year - could they actually get him to fall in a swimming pool like the video effect from Eesti Laul?

Then it all becomes a beauty contest and Uku becomes this hot guy who wins Eurovision's first wet t-shirt competition. But enough juries are jealous and this is too far out of contention, even with him shirtless in the Green Room.

In reality, there's a weird middle-of-the-road route to this being the right blend of inoffensive to do well enough to make it through the semi- possibly squeaking 10th place in the semi, and being last in the final. However the draw of 2nd suggests no mesmerising staging, and suggests a weak package.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Decent

Worth it? Small possibility of trading potential, otherwise no

Czech Republic (790/960)

Catchy. Check. Fun interpretation of covid theme. Check. Charismatic performance. Still a question mark here, but the music video has it in abundance and Benny’s got a song written to sell to the TV public of 2021.

Qualifying, and drawn second half, Benny gives people the fun they want from Eurovision 2021 when all of the other acts failed or went too serious. Jurors want a break too and it's staged well enough to be in touching distance and then slam dunking the televote.

Of all these 1000-1 shots, this one is my pick. If Daði gets tired of the song again, The Roop are too frantic, and if Flo Rida never boards a transatlantic flight then the open door is there for this to well over perform its current rating. Winning is, well, a 1000-1 shot, but I swear if Sweden had sent this it would be in the 20s. Still need to see live to commit to this one, but it's undervalued by a betting market which is too fussy on Omaga's lack of melody.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Unlikely at the moment

Worth it? If you want a long shot to cheer on, this should be your long shot

Spain (830/1000)

It may be a ballad we have all heard before but Spain has a singer who is charming and can deliver the goods on the night. The falsetto at the end is magical and the whole of Europe remembers how good he was in the recap and throws it enough points to win after being 2nd in both jury and televote.

Yeah. Now that's real fantasy land. I can see some random juries from Albania and Georgia liking this enough to get 23rd-25th overall, more would be a surprise.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Very high

Worth it? Not really

Poland (830/1000)

The Polish singer seems in his video to be the world's most embarrassing dad. It turns out the world of lockdown has normalised this behaviour and he plays up the irony and becomes the TikTok meme of the season, with the entirety of Europe seeing Rafal as the loveable representation of embarrassing fathers we never knew we needed.

Yeah, that voting group doesn't exist in any universe. Huge question marks about how much Poland's ever-so-reliable televote will perform with an act that the social media demographic of Poles certainly can not stand. I assume the diaspora is a different generation, but have no idea whether they think differently. They are needed for any qualification chances, as juries can't be seen supporting anything styled like this, without any integrity or chance in the real music industry.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Very high

Worth it? I mean, it is still Poland. But no, better off looking in other markets if you think it will do ok (top 10?)

Serbia (450/640)

Note that Hurricane have the song with the most views on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel. There are many reasons behind that, the main one being that lots of people absolutely love this song. The voting for this will be sky high with some demographics come the final, and in a contest where the jury and televotes basically disagree with each other, the sass and energy of Loco Loco could top the televote and mean we all back in Belgrade next year.

Sadly in terms of the Song Contest, almost all of those who love it are based in Serbia’s neighbouring countries. Realistically that means lots of 12 points...and lots of zeroes. Qualifying is that hard thing, as there are few of Serbia’s neighbours in the same semi final, so it needs to just scrape through. If it does scrape through, there are easily enough loyal votes to escape the bottom 10, maybe even the left side of the leaderboard is possible.

Could be a good country to back in some head-to-heads nearer the time as its position in the win market will underestimate its final position in the Grand Final.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Almost impossible

Worth it? Look in other markets

Georgia (640/1000)

Zzzzzz….has it finished yet?

I can’t imagine a scenario where this is going to win the Eurovision Song Contest. Sorry, I just can’t do it. Should be favourite to be last place in the semi once those markets slowly populate.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Very likely

Worth it? Not a chance

The Netherlands (530/990)

After all the Black Lives Matter protests and debates over the last twelve months, Jeangu’s song hits the mood of the room absolutely superbly. That is, the jury room in every nation could hear his message of freedom as the exact message that an EBU competition in 2021 should be rewarding, and the 12 points could flow in. Televoting seems a struggle, but some good press conferences in the week might mean he gets enough media attention to get a big enough vote in the final to win, and set us up for another year in Rotterdam (and one where we can all go!).

Now this is an earnest and well-written composition, but it is a clear example of how it is so different writing a song to win a selection, than compared to writing a song when already selected. This feels very much like an interval act, and that’s absolutely fine, but every competitive soul has been taken out of it. There’s a chance with it drawn 23rd to pick up enough points to escape the last few places, but this and Spain are the favourites for last place in the final currently.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Not as great at the odds suggest, the late draw might put off any more matching

Worth it? Can’t recommend

Latvia (710/910)

There’s plenty of female empowerment this year and there’s no greater embodiment of this than Samantha Tina. We know her vocal is brash yet stable and it may well have the juries absolutely cowering for cover when she explodes and gives it every ounce of attitude she has. This could be 2nd place with the juries at the halfway point, just like co-author Aminata was in 2015, but whereas Aminata was just too post-modern for televoters Samantha gets the mood spot on (the lesbian kiss was so divisive in 2013, but is so perfect in 2021) and we are heading to Riga once more.

This is an odd one. Samantha Tina will perform well, and this song will have its fair share of iconic moments. The problem is that I don’t see any of them being vote grabbing moments. It’s too easy for too many jurors and televotes to zone out of this one during the three minutes for it to have the universal appeal to do well. I’ll be watching staging though - the semi final running order is very good and I can see arguments for it to qualify (2.92/3.5) if it all comes together well.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Probably won’t happen for a while

Worth it? I wouldn’t try and put you off if you fancied it

Denmark (240/450)

Remember for just a moment that the average juror is significantly older than 32-year-old me. Whatever all the loud millennials and the generation below me feel, for the people who matter, this song is for them. We’ve all dismissed it but the old-fashioned jurors absolutely adore this - could it collect 12 after 12 to the astonishment of everybody in Rotterdam? Another late draw sees this in with a chance on the Saturday night with the ‘I want my Eurovision to be retro and cheesy’ crowd and we are finally off to a Danish hosting of Eurovision in an actual arena!

Naaah. Can’t see this panning out. This has shortened a little from the days of matching at 1000’s, partly due to the running order position of last in the semi final. Saving something special for last? I doubt it, more likely that the producers want to end the show on this unashamedly retro track. Now it does have lovers, but at an age group indeed *older* than even the average age of jurors. Think of this as the same as Arvingarna in the Melodifestivalen semi final, and with it a similar result. A small chance to qualify, but even if so just hitting too small a catchment to score significantly.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Not anymore

Worth it? At that price, maybe, but I think you can choose better

Israel (75/100)

We all know that juries love a big screamy note, and the whistle that Eden Alene pulls off hits the multiplier klaxon on those jury points and soars Israel through to a top score. We all know that jurors far too often love giving points to the singer, and forgetting the song beneath it. The release of Israel’s new version is an improvement, and fits in far more with this year’s contest with the better production and catchy post-chorus.

But, the song melody to Set Me Free is still unchanged and frankly they’ve tried all they can to make it interesting, but there’ll be at least a dozen more obvious options come Saturday night. Ultimately for those songs that are flavoured with feelings of 2021, this is probably the weakest message of the lot and I suspect we’ll get quite a traditional performance come the Saturday night. Great for a semi, but struggling for a final. Yes, those of you who matched this at 1000, with the old version and very disgruntled Israeli fans, can and should probably lay that bet now for a hefty profit. If this was still at 1000s I could certainly make arguments for it, but comparing it to those others under 100 there are better options.

And yeah, that jury note will just get Eden Alene on the clip reprises of weird Eurovision moments for years to come. Not taking home the trophy.

Likelihood of matching at 1000s: Not again this season

Worth it? At 1000s, maybe, but then again, only maybe. Unless there’s something somebody in Israel knows that I don’t.

In Conclusion

Betting at 1000s is crazy talk. The market has clearly decided that these things are absolutely chanceless and there’s no further that they can go. Anybody laying at 1000s knows that trading out of said bet is impossible and they are purely putting their entire bank account on the outcome that these countries can’t win.

On one side, I note this series of articles from ESCXtra about how the Eurovision betting market has become an even better predictor of success in recent years. It makes sense, there is far more experience within the community, and much more data points to collect and analyse. The Israeli situation should alert you however to the possibilities. They are now trading 10 times less in the market than the 1000 peak they had earlier in the season, and somewhere there’s probably a nervous trader wondering how on Earth it all happened.

It can take just a little bit of something special to lift a song’s chances. In a year like this when many of the songs have not performed live and we have no idea how the Song Contest will pan out, there’s more chance of a surprise than ever before. If Eurovision was to have it's Leicester City moment, it would make perfect sense for it to happen in 2021.

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