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How Lithuania Moved To Become Eurovision Favourite

I’m assuming that by this point the vast majority of readers of BetEurovision have heard Discoteque, The Roop’s third attempt to go to the Eurovision Song Contest for Lithuania.

How it all works is that The Roop have been given a place directly into the final of Lithuania’s selection process this year, after winning the right to go to Rotterdam last year. There are 20 songs in the mix up against them, but even before we had heard The Roop’s song it was expected all of those others were competing for second place.

With that in mind, the betting exchange markets on Lithuania have basically been a proxy for how successful The Roop would be since day one.

The first price that Lithuania matched this year was its highest at 33/1. I managed to grab a small chunk of Lithuania at that price. Since then a few National Final song releases have moved the price around intermittently, but generally speaking that price had continued to drop until we got to The Roop’s song reveal. By that point the anticipation of a top-tier Eurovision entry had brought Lithuania to a price in the high teens.

Snippets of the song were revealed prior to Friday’s release. They didn’t reveal particularly much, except that high quality production values were coming. Eventually the now usual and somewhat frustrating wave of leaks came, with a 30 second clip available on Thursday evening, before the full song appeared during the night into Friday. At this point the market started to move in all directions, originally shortening before drifting once again.

Now the amount of money in the market at this part of the season means dramatic swings can occur with relatively low inputs. We would have seen as much the previous day, when Blind Channel’s release of Dark Side saw a flurry of money with Finland matched as short as 10s, before the natural order appeared soon after.

Nevertheless there was uncertainty. The immediate reaction to Discoteque was positive, yet also similar to that from KEiiNO’s reveal last week - that some of the immediate charm had been sacrificed in place of something more sophisticated. When I woke up on Friday morning I saw a market seeming to settle at around 20s.

As we know now though that was not the end of the drama. The Roop are as much about visual identity as they are about their music. The music video, scheduled for an 0830 launch on Friday morning, didn’t immediately cause any significant betting movement. There’s memorable visual elements as expected, but the chorus riff, the waving of the arms above the head just seemed overly frantic compared to last year’s head bop and hands-above-head mesmerisation.

This caused the market to stutter, there were a few hundred pounds being offered to back Lithuania at 24s, not being taken, and then a slow stream of momentum started to push that price lower throughout the morning. For those trading here, a good tip if uncertain is to look at the values of money being offered on the back/lay prices. If significantly more money is available on the lay side of the equation, that is a fair indication that prices may begin to drop.

By early afternoon Lithuania had touched 10s and was in the mix with the favourites. Part of this may be caused by expert punters guaranteeing some trading value, pushing prices low to ride the hype that was statistically happening (writing this less than 24 hours after release shows a music video approaching 700,000 views from a country of less than three million people), but there’s enough speculation about this being a contender in the Eurovision community that there are more than just artificial movements going on. Prices slowly rebounded from that low of 10s, hovering into the low teens by the evening.

The final play to comment on was by far the day’s largest, with nearly £1000 matched on the Betfair exchange at odds of 13.5 (that's the grey spike in the graph above). Currently on the morning of Saturday 23rd January there isn’t anybody offering odds of more of 10.0 on the Betfair exchange, and 8.4 on Smarkets.

There’s one more movement that is set to happen today, and that is because The Roop are set to perform in Lithuania’s selection show tonight as an interval act in their first TV performance. Clearly the song has staging potential, but my immediate instinct is that performing in a Lithuanian TV studio may be underwhelming compared to the music video, and there's a chance for this to drift again to 13, 14, 15 in the next 24 hours. Beyond would be unlikely at the moment, with little else to whet Eurovision fans appetite for another month.

What do I personally think? I think Lithuania is an oddball country in the Eurovision Song Contest normally. In countries like Norway, UK and Ireland a loyal diaspora can give Lithuania top marks even in weak years, and combining that with what we expect to be a weak Baltic region means plenty of televote 12’s are possible. In some of the replacement shows around Europe The Roop performed well, winning the vote in Germany and being 3rd in the app vote in Sweden. All these things together, as well as this song here, means there's a few alternative universes where this is a +200 in the televote song, just like On Fire had potential to be.

The question mark would be with the jury score. One thing I will say in its favour here is that this sound and style anecdotally seems to be a hit amongst many Eurovision fans just a few years older than my 32 years, which would put it right at the median age range of Eurovision jurors. I do though have question marks about the final minute of this track, which seems to stagnate and may struggle to get that final vote-for-me push needed.

Top-half, top-10 and top-5 are all possible with everything coming together. We would need to compare to both Iceland and Russia (assuming Little Big), along with any others going for a very visual approach to a Eurovision 2021 victory before I, and the rest of the market, commit to backing Lithuania in the win market. Tonight’s live performance does need a coherent and stand-out identity to stay with that current pack of favourites though. I'll be watching intensely.


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