During rehearsals for the first semi-final of Eurovision 2021, there were some significant changes to the odds on the Smarkets prediction markets. Here are the key changes…
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).
Eurovision 2021: Semi-Final 1 odds to qualify following rehearsals
Qualification chance: 92% (+17) / Final win chance: 3% (+2)
You may remember that I argued in my first article for Wiwibloggs last month that a 68% qualification chance for Ukraine was too low, and Go_A demonstrated why that was the case during their rehearsals, surging to 92% in the process. While ‘Shum’ may potentially be too dark and esoteric for some to win the contest, Go_A are more than capable of achieving a good result for Ukraine in the final.
Qualification chance: 87% (+16) / Final win chance: 1% (-)
I would like to issue a short statement: I was wrong. Russia did exactly what they needed to do for these rehearsals — their staging hits all the right notes for the song, with Manizha’s mechanical dress being an ingenious touch. The dress is playful and a novelty but it also carries a serious message about the potentially oppressive and restrictive nature of tradition, which Manizha breaks free from. While 87% still looks far too high for me, Russia’s chances of qualification have certainly risen significantly since rehearsals started.
Qualification chance: 96% (+11) / Final win chance: 4% (+2)
Here’s the thing about ‘El Diablo’: has it been done before? Yes. But is it done well? Also yes. Elena Tsagrinou’s polished performance has clearly made an impression on traders, with Cyprus now up to 7th place in the outright Eurovision winner market.
Qualification chance: 59% (-19) / Final win chance: 0.4% (-1.3)
Romania’s odds of qualifying on the Smarkets exchange have fallen further than any other country in this semi-final. You can see what they’ve tried to go for in their performance but it just doesn’t quite work. Roxen’s outfit is questionable (not looking too dissimilar to the cosy clothes one might wear for a long-haul flight) and she appears to struggle with her vocals in parts during her interpretive dancing. It’s disappointing to see as this song had potential.
Qualification chance: 60% (-9) / Final win chance: 0.2% (-0.2)
Azerbaijan is one of the numerous entries this year following the new formula of one singer with four backing dancers, but unfortunately for Azerbaijan, there are other entries (e.g. Malta and Cyprus) doing it better. I can’t quite get my head around having a Middle-Eastern-inspired sound and staging for a song about someone who spent most of their life in Western Europe. It worked for ‘Cleopatra’ last year, but you can’t just swap out one historical figure whose name fits into a catchy refrain for another and expect the same results. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but it seems many are under the impression that this is a bit of a Eurovision-by-the-numbers production from Azerbaijan, and their qualification chances have fallen accordingly. Efendi is also not helped by the strength of Russia and Ukraine’s stage shows, meaning ‘Mata Hari’ will face stiff competition for points among Azerbaijan’s usual voting bloc. That said, don’t write this off just yet.
Qualification chance: 97% (-1) / Final win chance: 22% (-2)
Malta manages to fit into both the biggest falls *and rises* in the prediction markets. While their qualification prospects aren’t in doubt, after Destiny’s first rehearsal there was a significant decline in Malta’s price on the final winner market and she lost her place at the top of the odds for the first time. The staging and costuming were the culprits: the heavy use of monochromatic bright pink staging for ‘Je me casse’ felt understated and didn’t seem to suit the song, and Destiny’s pink costume didn’t really work either. Following the biggest debate over the colour of a dress since the infamous black and blue one, this morning Destiny changed to silver for her second rehearsal and the delegation made some changes to the staging, and Malta climbed back on top.
Belgium, to qualify
At 12th in the qualification odds, Hooverphonic really are in The Wrong Place. Lead singer Geike delivers Belgium’s entry flawlessly, and their dark and moody staging helps the track stand out enormously in a sea of brightly coloured pop. My one worry is that the backdrop of Geike’s face might come across a little bit Blair Witch Project to some, but I’m hoping this won’t be the case in the final performance. As I said before, though, the juries should lap this up and Hooverphonic could surprise a lot of people. For this reason, Belgium to qualify (currently trading around 50%) is my best bet for this semi-final.
Check out all of Smarkets’ Eurovision odds here
Photo: Thomas Hanses (EBU)