With rehearsals for the second semi-final in full swing, Eurovision 2021 is shaping up to be the closest in recent memory — according to the prediction markets at least. At this point in the calendar in previous years, the favourites have been rated at 31% (Netherlands 2019), 36% (Israel 2018) and 53% (Italy 2017). This year, the favourites Malta are trading at just 23%, with three other entries (France, Switzerland and Italy) in double figures, suggesting the race is still wide open.
As I opined in my previous article, the first semi-final this year is the hardest to predict of any in recent memory but fortunately for us, the second semi-final is a little easier. In my mind, there are three main tiers in this set of songs: six likely qualifiers, seven that could go either way, and then four likely non-qualifiers, so it could be pretty exciting. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a rush of… adrenaline?
Please note: This was written prior to rehearsals.
All betting odds, or prices, can be converted into an implied chance (%) of something happening and this is how we convey odds (for example 3/1 = 25% implied probability).
Semi-final win chance: 3% / Qualification chance: 79% / Final win chance: 2%
Senhit kicks off the second semi-final with a bang. While the studio version of ‘Adrenalina’ is great and has been getting many plays on my Spotify, the important question is whether it can be successfully performed live, with the Sammarinese delegation probably worried about potential echoes of Cyprus 2019. While it’s very difficult to win a semi-final from first in the running order and I do have a few worries about how much the juries are going to take to this song, I’d still rate San Marino’s qualification chances a bit higher than the market currently suggests. From a betting and trading perspective, however, I don’t think there’s much value in this right now.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 37% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Starting with the negatives, Estonia has a tough song to follow and is at the most difficult spot in the running order. Had Uku Suviste landed a draw among some of the more lulling songs in the second half of this semi-final, I think he’d be a likely qualifier. That said, Estonia have some neighbours in Finland and Latvia in this semi-final which they can rely on for points and ‘The Lucky One’ is a fairly radio-friendly track so shouldn’t struggle too much with the juries. I think this is one of the entries that could go either way.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 33% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Like Estonia, Czech Republic is another decent entry hampered by a front-loaded running order. On an individual basis, I could make a strong qualification case for all of the first nine songs in this semi-final, but when taken together, we know that at least one of them is going to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately for Czech Republic, while it’s perfectly possible that ‘Omaga’ finishes inside the jury’s top 10, their severe lack of televote friends makes this an unlikely qualifier both for me and the market.
Semi-final win chance: 3% / Qualification chance: 81% / Final win chance: 1%
Greece is a difficult one to predict, perhaps the most difficult in this semi-final. I haven’t seen any live performances of the song from Stefania and the Greek delegation are keeping their staging plans under wraps. From the studio version, I would expect this to qualify, but I wouldn’t be confident betting on it right now.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 43% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Vincent Bueno’s qualification chances have taken a small hit on Smarkets over the last few weeks, falling from a 53% chance of qualification a few weeks ago to 43% today. Austria don’t have any big televoting friends in this semi-final, but this entry would need to be carried through on jury votes to qualify anyway. While ‘Amen’ can get *just a little bit* repetitive, live performances show quite clearly that Vincent Bueno has a great voice, and this should have no trouble at all landing inside the jury’s top 10 at the very least.
Semi-final win chance: 2% / Qualification chance: 28% / Final win chance: 0.2%
Poland is another entry whose qualification chances have taken a tumble in recent weeks. ‘The Ride’ had a 43% chance of qualification three weeks ago, but has fallen 15 percentage points since then. By all means drag me in the comments, but I think 28% looks like a good bet for Rafał to grab a spot in the final. Poland has one-sided televote relationships with a few countries in this semi-final, with Poland receiving some strong televote scores in recent contests from countries with relatively higher numbers of Polish-born residents. As a result, Poland are likely to pick up points from the UK, Iceland and France at the very least. ‘The Ride’ is a fun song and although I’m under no impressions that it’s going to finish in the jury’s top 10, Poland’s televote tally could potentially see it through.
Semi-final win chance: 2% / Qualification chance: 71% / Final win chance: 0.5%
Moldova’s running order position is not an enviable one. Sandwiched between two fun and memorable entries in Poland and Iceland, the latter of which is then followed by a high-energy number from Serbia, I think there’s a real chance that ‘Sugar’ fails to stand out in the crowded opening half of this semi-final. To add to this, Natalia Gordienko did seem to be struggling to hit some of the song’s bigger notes in her Eurovision Spain pre-party performance which, if replicated on the night, is unlikely to do Moldova any favours with the jury. With no guaranteed points haul from close neighbour Romania (who will participate in the first semi-final) either, a lot seems to be going against Moldova. It pains me to say this as I like the studio version of this song, but I think ‘Sugar’ has the potential to be a shock non-qualifier.
Semi-final win chance: 8% / Qualification chance: 90% / Final win chance: 5%
Iceland’s qualification chances have climbed up to 90% on Smarkets in the last couple of weeks. ‘10 Years’ is a warm and memorable entry that should fare pretty well with both the televote and the jury. I don’t see any problems with this qualifying.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 62% / Final win chance: 0.2%
To me, Serbia looks like decent value to qualify right now, especially when compared with Moldova just two songs earlier. Listening to their live performances, Hurricane have got great voices, and ‘Loco Loco’ could therefore be a real crowd-pleaser. To add to this, Serbia have a few friends in this semi-final that they can rely on for points, notably Switzerland and Austria. With a strong vocal performance, I can see this finishing inside the top 10 of both the televote and the jury and advancing to the final.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 17% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Entering into the slow period of the semi-final now, Georgia has been consistently at the bottom of the qualification odds for this semi-final. I think this is the most likely candidate to finish last in the televote, and while it may fare a little better with the juries, I can’t see it qualifying.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 56% / Final win chance: 0.1%
While Anxhela Peristeri can expect some televote points from Greece and Switzerland, I think this entry is a bit run-of-the-mill for Albania, and not a likely qualifier. The fact it’s sandwiched between two slow entries and still fails to stand out is a bit of an issue.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 48% / Final win chance: 0.3%
Portugal have seen their qualification chances shoot up from 30% to around 50% in the last few weeks, and I’d say that’s about right. ‘Love Is On My Side’ is an understated entry that has the potential to do okay with the juries. It’s hardly going to set the world alight, but Portugal are assisted with some close friends (Switzerland, France and Spain) voting in this semi-final, whose votes could be enough to push The Black Mamba over the line.
Semi-final win chance: 22% / Qualification chance: 93% / Final win chance: 4%
Bulgaria is quite a curious one. The buzz around this entry has been very muted given its position in the odds, though it’s a well-written song that will draw natural comparisons to Billie Eilish. I think Victoria has a pretty good chance of finishing in the jury’s top three in this semi-final, but the potential emotional impact of ‘Growing Up Is Getting Old’ may well be lessened by the fact that it follows three fairly slow unexciting songs, at which point the viewing audience may be crying out for some energy.
Semi-final win chance: 8% / Qualification chance: 91% / Final win chance: 2%
You wanted energy? Well, you’ve got it now. Finland really couldn’t have asked for a better slot in the running order, with ‘Dark Side’ likely to hit like an explosion after a fairly meandering period in this semi-final. Unfortunately, though, I do have some concerns about Blind Channel’s live vocals, which could well see them punished a bit by the juries. I’d say this is still more likely than not to get through, but I wouldn’t go near those qualification iodds with a barge pole.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 30% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Latvia stands out in this semi-final with a pretty distinctive song and a contemporary sound that might garner some support from the juries. ‘The Moon Is Rising’ is bound to divide opinion, and I think this one could go either way. 30% looks like a good price for anyone wanting to back Samanta Tīna as an outsider to qualify.
Semi-final win chance: 43% / Qualification chance: 98% / Final win chance: 13%
Here it is. Switzerland have been a nailed-on qualifier since the release of their song, and I think Gjon’s Tears is likely to win this semi-final, with everything going for this entry. The dynamics for Switzerland in this semi-final remind me a lot of Bulgaria in 2017, which comfortably topped both the televote and jury rankings in semi-final two. ‘Tout l’Univers’ is a great song with cross televote and jury appeal, and a spot in the running order perfectly tailored by the Eurovision producers. There is a lot of staging potential for this entry and personally I think Switzerland really ought to be challenging Malta for first place in the outright Eurovision winner market, rather than sitting in third at almost half Malta’s price.
Semi-final win chance: 1% / Qualification chance: 41% / Final win chance: 0.1%
Finally, Denmark will follow Switzerland with what is, in my opinion, one of the weakest semi-final closers for a few years. Of course Fyr & Flamme will be helped by performing last, with the closing entry having qualified in all but two of the last 20 semi-finals (and their qualification chances have been creeping up on our market), but to me 41% just feels too high. I would be happy to give ‘Øve os på hinanden’ a 41% chance of finishing inside the top 10 of the televote, but I expect this may end up towards the bottom of the jury scoreboard.
Which entries do you think will qualify from the second semi-final? Which countries do you think are being over or under-estimated by our market odds right now? Once again, let your voices be heard in the comments!