Luck of the draw? Importance of position in the running order at Eurovision finals

Adrian Kavanagh, 18th May 2013

A version of this piece appears in The 2013 Eurovision Handbook – this is still available to download in e-book format for the price of €2.99 and proceeds of this will go to the Irish Cancer Society – see:

http://johnnyfallon.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/please-support-eurovision-handbook-in-aid-of-irish-cancer-society/ 

Song and performance matters in terms of ultimate Eurovision success, although “diaspora” and “friends and neighbours” voting can also help a country’s prospects of doing well in the contest – though of course not in themselves proving sufficient to win the contest for those countries that can especially benefit from these voting trends. But another key factor that can shape a country’s hopes of winning the contest is the draw position they get to perform in, with the usual rule of thumb suggesting that a late draw position will significantly help a country’s hopes of doing well in the contest.

Eurovision Final wins and position in running order during the 2000s 

Finals
Year

Winning Country

Draw Position

Number of Entrants

2012

Sweden

17

26

2011

Azerbaijan

19

25

2010

Germany

22

25

2009

Norway

20

25

2008

Russia

24

25

2007

Serbia

17

24

2006

Finland

17

24

2005

Greece

19

24

2004

Ukraine

10

24

2003

Turkey

4

26

2002

Latvia

23

24

2001

Estonia

20

23

2000

Denmark

14

24

The countries that have won Eurovision Finals during the 2000s have tended to enjoy the advantages of a late draw position. The main exception here is the 2003 contest in which Turkey managed to narrowly win the contest (a two point win over Belgium’s Sanomi which was performed in 22nd position on the night) while performing 4th on the night of what was (up to 2012) the largest ever final in Eurovision history with 26 acts performing in it. The only other exception here relates to 2004 when Ukraine’s Wild Dances won the contest while performing in 10th position on Final night. Since Ukraine’s 2004 win, none of the winning acts in Eurovision Finals have performed any earlier than 17th on Eurovision Final night, meaning that the winners of the last seven finals have come exclusively from the last third of the draw. Indeed, 17th position in the running order has been an especially fortuitous one, with three winners having come from this draw position in the past seven contests and with three of the Irish winners have also performed from this position in the running order.

When it comes to the Eurovision final, a late draw position does offer countries a better chance of success with generally higher average points over the past decade of Eurovision finals being associated with those countries that have received the later draw positions. However, it is interesting to note that being drawn to perform in last place is not the best draw position statistically to get in a Eurovision final, as opposed to the trend noted earlier for the Eurovision semi-finals. Indeed, no act has won a Eurovision final when performing last on the night (although there have been a number of semi-final wins from this draw position) since Yugoslavia’s Riva won in 1989 with Rock Me. Indeed, an analysis of past voting patterns suggest that being drawn to perform in third-last position in a final is a better draw position to get statistically than being drawn to perform last or second-last on the night.

The best draw positions to get statistically based on this analysis, after the third-last position in the running order (24th in the case of tonight’s final), would be the 17th and 18th positions in the Eurovision final running order, although a number of the later positions in the running order – 21st, 22nd and 25th – are also associated with higher than average points levels. In the earlier part of the show, the 10th and 11th positions in the Eurovision final running order are seen to be best to get in the first half of the show based on voting patterns in previous contests. The worst draw position to get, according to the past voting statistics, in a Eurovision final is the 2nd draw position, with the next worst being the 4th and 9th positions in the running order. The 3rd place draw position proves not to be the worst to get in statistical terms in a final, as opposed to the case for semi-finals where the 3rd place position in the running order is statistically the worst one to get. But along with the first, 15th and 26th positions in the running order, the 3rd place draw position can be shown to still compare unfavourably with other potential draw positions.

(A 2011 version of this post, including graphs, can be viewed at: https://adriankavanagh.com/2012/05/21/the-last-will-be-first-eurovision-and-the-luck-of-the-draw/  – of course, a more in-depth and updated version can be viewed by reading The 2013 Eurovision Handbook, as noted above.)

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