Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests

Adrian Kavanagh, 23rd April 2014

As I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest and also Denmark’s win last year,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the running order for the two 2014 Eurovision semi-finals. Those of you who have read The Eurovision Handbook 2013 will know that I used this same model to (sort of!) successfully predict most of the qualifiers for the 2013 final.

**********************************************************************************************

In terms of working out who may win this year’s two Eurovision semi-finals/predicting which countries might qualify from these (and hopefully making a few bob in the process) various factors can be looked at, but the three most significant ones are the song quality (which I use Eurovision betting odds as a means of trying to quantify this), past voting histories (involving the different countries – the semi-finalists themselves and the three Big 5/Host countries drawn to vote in these – that will be voting in the different semi-finals) and position in the semi-final running order, as well as performance quality (both in the show itself and the previous night’s dress rehearsal/jury final, which is the contest that the Eurovision juries get to vote on). As only a crystal ball can predict the quality and impact of the different acts’ Eurovision performances at this stage, this analysis will just focus on past voting history, draw position and betting odds as a means of determining which countries are likely to do well in the 2013 Eurovision Final.

Past voting histories: During the televoting era, countries have shown a remarkable consistency in terms of the other countries that they vote for. This is probably most evident in the case of Greece and Cyprus’s tendency to award each other douze points in Eurovision contests, but similar trends can be observed for most other European contestants, including Ireland who showed a remarkable consistency during the “full-blown” televoting era in awarding its high Eurovision points to Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom, especially from 2005 onwards. Such has been the consistency in Eurovision countries’ voting patterns during the 2000s that one can easily suggest the existence of different, geographically-based, voting blocs, which tend to award especially high numbers of points to certain countries (not necessarily always other bloc members) and from which bloc members can expect to attain their highest Eurovision points tallies. The impact of such “bloc voting” has been tempered in recent years by the reintroduction of a professional jury voting element as part of a 50-50 voting system involving televoting and jury votes. But given that televoting still accounts for half of the total votes being awarded by countries, past voting histories of countries will give a strong indicator as to the destination of their Eurovision votes in the 2013 Final, and also suggests that some countries – due to an ability to score highly within one, or more, Eurovision voting blocs – will start the contest at somewhat of an advantage to countries such as France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain and Belgium, which have struggled to win Eurovision points over the past decade and half. It must be noted that the change in the rules for the 2013 contest as to how televotes and jury votes will be combined does have the potential to even further blunt the impact of this bloc voting.

To analyse this, I calculated, and ranked, the average number of points awarded by all the countries voting in the semi-finals since the introduction of televoting in 1998 to the 31 different countries that are taking part in these two semi-finals, but only looking at the countries taking in the semi-final that the different countries will be voting in. This ranking is then used to determine the semi-finalists that the different voting countries are likely to award their 12 points, 10 points…and 1 point to in these semi-finals, based on past voting histories. Hence, in the case of Semi Final 2, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 7.5 from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Poland (4.5 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, Norway (4.1), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on. The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 17 voting countries in the Semi Final 2 are estimated in a similar manner (with a similar process used for the Semi Final 1 voting countries). These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based solely on the past voting histories of the countries voting in these different contests.   

Position in the Running Order: As discussed in greater detail elsewhere on this site, in The Eurovision Handbook 2013 and in the upcoming The Eurovision Handbook 2014, vote patterns for past contests suggest that a country’s position in the show running order can (in part) determine how well they do in that contest, with certain positions in the contest running order (generally later positions, although certain earlier draw positions such as 10th have proven to be relatively good ones also) being associated with a stronger likelihood of success/higher average points level as against other draw positions (generally those in the earlier part of the show). In most cases a good draw position does not offer an unsurpassable advantage and this can be balanced by the quality of the entries involved and strong/weak performances on the night(s) in question or indeed past voting histories. But, as discussed elsewhere, a good draw position has been show to give a notable advantage to different acts in the past, all things being even. For the purpose of these predictions, the average number of points won from different draw positions in all of the Eurovision Semi Final contests (since the introduction of the two semi-final system) was calculated and these point levels assigned to the countries selected to perform in those positions at the May 6th and May 8th semi-finals.

Betting odds: Past voting histories (or a tendency for countries to award their higher points to certain countries) and position in the contest running order do have an influence on Eurovision success rates. But these do not account for other key determinants of success – song quality, performance quality and the impact of a song/the way a song is presented on the Eurovision stage. The factors relating to an act’s performance on the night cannot be quantified without the help of a crystal ball, as noted already. Song quality is also a factor that is  hard to measure, but a variety of methods might be employed to determine rough estimates of this. Pre-contest internet polls could be used, but, as with the problems generally associated with online surveys, these do have their limitations. In general, these do favour the countries most beloved by the Eurovision fans – for example, Sweden! The closest approximation of song quality can probably be offered in terms of contest betting odds. As punters will want a return on a financial investment, it makes sense that they will be backing (what they perceive to be) the best entries in the contest in order to get this return. In effect, as punters are putting “their money where their mouth is”, this is probably as good an approximation of song quality, or perceptions on this, as is available. The link between betting odds and song quality/impact is not in keeping with the principles of exact science, but betting odds do at least offers some means of quantifying song quality. A number of contest analysts would argue that betting odds often offer the most potent means of estimating likelihood of contest success, as evident in the number of recent contests that have been won by the pre-contest favourite. This also allows for the identification of highly tipped entries, such as this year’s entry from Belgium, whose likelihood of doing well in the competition would not be evident from a study of prior voting patterns for those countries. The means of transforming the Final betting odds into Eurovision points was to identify the bookie rankings of the different countries taking part in the each of the two different semi-finals. Points were assigned to the countries occupying different rankings in the bookie odds based on the average number of points earned by countries finishing in that position in Eurovision semi-final contests held since the introduction of the two semi-final system in 2008.

Combining the voting bloc/history patterns with the impact of draw position and the betting odd weightings (and giving these a 50% weighting), the following result would be predicted for Semi Final 1:

Country Odds Draw History Total
Armenia 149 59 84 110
Hungary 133 108 52 107
Sweden 105 63 120 99
Ukraine 105 64 105 95
Russia 72 68 121 83
Azerbaijan 77 52 121 82
Belgium 88 69 47 73
Montenegro 63 98 30 64
Iceland 45 62 75 57
Netherlands 45 89 45 56
Moldova 45 59 64 53
Albania 32 81 48 48
Estonia 45 36 62 47
Latvia 45 55 37 46
San Marino 23 69 46 40
Portugal 23 69 45 40

In this semi-final, the advantage accorded to countries such Russia, Azerbaijan, Sweden and Ukraine is outstripped by the higher rankings accorded to Hungary and Armenia in the bookie odds, though this analysis suggests that all six of these countries would be likely qualifiers. As the bookies’ favourite, Armenia, is predicted to just edge out victory in this semi-final, but Hungary – by virtue of a much more favourable position in the running order – would be predicted to run Armenia very close in this regard. On these figures Belgium would seem to be likely to join these other six countries in the final, with Montenegro, Iceland and The Netherlands the other three countries that are predicted to fill the semi-final qualification positions. If any of these predicted qualifiers should miss 0ut – and being mindful of the narrow margin separating these from the countries falling just outside these Top 10 qualification berths – then Moldova would seem to be the most likely country to replace them, with Albania, Latvia and Estonia also in contention. While Portugal and San Marino do not by any means seem to be wholly out of contention, these would seem to the two countries that have the least chance of qualifying out of this semi-final, based on this analysis. 

Combining the voting bloc/history patterns with the impact of draw position and the betting odd weightings (and giving these a 50% weighting), the following result would be predicted for Semi Final 2:

Country Odds Draw History Total
Romania 143 107 97 123
Greece 107 62 127 101
Norway 128 37 106 100
Israel 96 58 75 81
Malta 74 62 97 77
Poland 85 65 66 75
Ireland 69 67 56 65
Slovenia 61 97 33 63
Finland 57 55 68 59
Lithuania 45 73 73 59
Austria 49 84 43 56
Georgia 37 72 68 54
Belarus 30 72 58 48
FYR Macedonia 37 61 33 42
Switzerland 24 71 44 41

In this semi-final, there is a clear winner – with Romania scoring highly as the best ranked country based on bookie odds, but also being the country that enjoys the best position in the semi-final running order. There is a clear margin between Romania and Norway and Greece, but these two countries are also seen to be well clear of the counties occupying the next three berths based on these predictions, namely Israel, Malta and Poland. The final four countries that would be qualifying for the final based on these model predictions would be Ireland, Slovenia, Finland and Lithuania. But the margin separating these from the predicted non-qualifiers is rather slight and hence these could not be taken to be nailed on qualifiers. Austria, Georgia and Belarus would be the likeliest to benefit if one, or more, of these countries were to fall out of the qualification positions, with Macedonia and Switzerland facing the biggest struggle in terms of qualifying from this semi-final. 

 

So to conclude, this study offers a prediction as to how the 31 countries participating in the two semi-finals may fare in these. Due to a lack of a functioning crystal ball, this analysis cannot assess the impact of a vital element of Eurovision success or failure, namely the quality and impact of the performance on the Eurovision stage. An impactful stage act and strong performance can push previously unfavoured acts into contention, but a weak live performances can in turn nix the prospects of contest favourites. And the growing influence being accorded to the voting juries, arising from new rules on how each country’s televote and jury vote rankings are to be combined, is another aspect that may further skew this picture. This is a very long-winded way of saying that if you decide to bet on the Final results based on this study and you make a few bob, then that’s great and mine’s a red lemonade (with the fizz taken out – the bubbles go to my head). On the other hand, if your bet goes horribly wrong, then you’ll probably find me in deepest Outer Mongolia… 😮

Advertisements

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests”

  1. adamwithers1 Says:

    great stuff! very interesting analysis. Cant wait to see your analysis for the final 😛

  2. Deven O'Kearney Says:

    So, if we go by your model Ireland should come 7th in the semi final and make it to the final.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: