Mark your calendars and make sure you’ll be near an Internet connection: On January 29 Lisbon City Hall will play host to the Eurovision 2018 semi-final allocation draw. The ceremony starts at 13:00 CET.
Sílvia Alberto and Filomena Cautela — one half of this year’s fierce foursome of hosts — will lead the proceedings.
The first part of the draw assigns the pre-qualified countries (Big 5 nations France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom + host country Portugal) to vote in one of the two semi-finals.
Then it’s time to assign the other countries to a semi-final, with each of the countries drawn from different pots. The precise running order will later be revealed by the show’s producers, once all songs have been submitted in March.
The countries are grouped into pots based on historic voting patterns. This is to help ensure each semi-final is not dominated by countries that may all vote for each other by default. The countries that share a pot are essentially split into the two different semis to prevent a “bloc” vote.
Semi-Final “Draw Pots”
There aren’t too many changes from last year’s pots. Pot one remains the Balkan region plus Switzerland. In pot 2 are the Nordics, with Ireland replacing Estonia. Pot 3 contains eastern Europe, with Ukraine re-taking their usual spot here from Israel.
Pot 4 takes a journey from Hungary in the north to Cyprus in the south. Pot 5 contains a number of “leftover”, perhaps Western-leaning countries (with Israel replacing host nation Portugal). Pot 6 contains the three Baltic nations and the remaining north-western countries.