Semi Final One: Qualify Market Review
Updated: May 8, 2021
Looking at the qualify market for Semi Final 1. Following on from the previous article on the win market I'm happy that Sweden, Lithuania and Malta are nailed on certainties and therefore we can move on from discussing them in this article.
Cyprus are next and best priced at 1.16 on the Betfair exchange at time of writing. I worry about this one slightly, it's a fan favourite but nothing more and while Elena's acoustic versions have been nice, I don't know how votable this package is. The El Diablo theme could lead to some red, aggressive staging that would make this an off-putting package. I expect this to make it but a result of 7th to 10th would be no surprise, akin to how Replay was hotly tipped but only just stumbled over the line. If rehearsals are suspect, the 6.5 from Unibet on not to qualify could be excellent value.
Romania is good in my eyes, but then I'm assuming some epic staging. No value for the casual punter however with everyone under 1.3.
Russia and Ukraine have shortened into under 1.3 as well. The lack of Belarus this year is a loss of about 20 points each, meaning both of these need some love from the West to make it. Russia has a Slavic sound that will resonate from Poland to Serbia, but I'm less confident that the more Western tastes of Lithuania and Slovenia will pick up on that. You are all aware that Russia is my personal top pick, but that took a few listens and I don't have faith that juries or televoters will give it such grace. It is after all rap, which is a struggle. I'm not laying this myself, but the price is too short.
I picked up a little bit of Ukraine momentum a couple of weeks back when it drifted to over 1.5. It placed 2nd with OGAE Australia which is an odd one, but explainable. OGAE Australia has been able to hold big preview screenings, I assume with alcohol, and it suggests to me that Shum is one hell of a party song. The question mark is how much that translates to a Tuesday night and how much of a party Europe will be having this year (or indeed Australia at 5 in the morning). I can see a televote win in the semi, or a televote 12th in the semi. Not much of a clue on this one and, like Russia, not touching at these prices at least until rehearsals.
Norway and Azerbaijan make up the next cluster, generally trading around 1.4. Azerbaijan not to qualify was a a podcast tip last week and I stick by that, this offers little that I see getting juries interested. Neither does Norway, but I expect a comedic public vote for Tix that a song about Mata Hari won't get.
Croatia is hovering above 1.5 and, while a good bet, is still a tad short. I think Albina's proven, unlike many internally selected acts, and in contrast to Efendi she is very easy to vote for. The reason I feel it is too short is that I worry about just how many uptempo female acts can make it. That's especially relevant because another act to have shortened is Israel, which is now about 1.6 to qualify. The reason for this shortening is that Eden Alene is currently top 5 on Euro Jury, suggesting her excellent artistry is successfully carrying Set Me Free. I got a price on Eden earlier on, and I can see this qualifying, but not doing much in the final should it make it there.
This leaves 5 outsiders that I do consider to be just that. All have potential though. Benke Rydman could have genius staging for Ireland and Belgium's Hooverphonic could struggle but could just as easily come through by being suitably moody. Slovenia is the type of ballad that juries may misunderstand and actually think it top drawer, and televoters may do the same with North Macedonia. I'm don't rate Here I Stand as a song but am expecting Vasil to sing the pants off it and it to be a special moment, especially following Australia.
Oh yes, Australia. Staying at home will make the public vote surely drop to near zero, and the song shouldn't get Australia's jury love either. 1.4 still available not to qualify.
If pushed, pre rehearsals these 10 make it
Which leaves Macedonia out which I'm not massively happy about, but percentage wise there is just too much against it. Little surprise that there has been over twice the money matched on this semi's qualifying market than the second show, this is a far more competitive competition with many worthy of being in a Eurovision final.