The eagerly-anticipated grand final is almost upon us and the running order has been announced. There have been a number of rises and falls in the prediction markets after the semi-finals this week, and though this is a fast moving situation, in this article I’ll try to shed some light on who the potential contenders are ahead of tomorrow night.
To start: what can the running order tell us about the semi-final results?
Though they deny it officially, there have long been suspicions that the Eurovision producers have access to the semi-final results (or at least a strong idea of who did well and who scraped through) when crafting the running order for the final. With this in mind, based on the running order it looks like it may have been Ukraine, rather than the odds-on favourite Malta, who won the first semi-final.
With a draw of 6th in the running order, Malta’s win chance collapsed from 18% to 12% overnight, and in my view, their price should have fallen even further. Looking historically, you have to go back all the way to 2003 to find a winning song that was performed before 10th in the running order, when Sertab Erener took home the crown for Turkey. Even then, though, not only did Turkey have a lot of diaspora support (which Malta does not have), there were only three points separating the top three entries that year. It looks pretty difficult for Malta to win from such an early draw, so I think ‘Je me casse’ may be out of contention for the win (though of course all records have to be broken eventually).
In the second semi-final, based on the running order it looks like the top two may have been Switzerland and Iceland, with both landing a good draw at the end of the first half.
Who’s in contention?
I’ve spoken about Malta at length already, so if we continue on the assumption that their running order position rules them out, we are left with five other contenders.
Italy (28% chance at Smarkets; current favourites)
Given the strength of their entry and their prime slot in the running order, Italy are rightfully one of the big contenders for this year’s contest. I really like ‘Zitti e buoni’, but I have a slight worry that it might be a little divisive with the juries, despite its contemporary sound. It only takes one or two members of each country’s jury to be put off and give Italy a low rank for Måneskin to miss out on big points.
France (20% chance at Smarkets)
France has a good draw in the running order at 20th, but I think there’s a real chance they end up performing in Ukraine’s shadow, with the audience still reeling from Go_A’s energetic performance. Barbara Pravi should do well with the jury, but will the televote be the same?
Furthermore, I am always wary about France in Eurovision as they tend to underperform compared to their odds. In 2019, they were 10th in the odds and finished 16th. In 2018, they were 4th in the odds but finished 13th. In 2017, 10th and 12th. In 2016, 4th and 6th. In 2015 and 2014 they were 21st in the odds and finished 25th and 26th, respectively. So for six contests in a row, France have underperformed their position in the odds. For these reasons, I think there is too much uncertainty and potential to underperform with this entry that I wouldn’t go near a price of 20%.
Switzerland (10% chance at Smarkets)
I have to say I was rather surprised that Switzerland’s odds drifted during their performance in last night’s semi-final, as my initial concerns around the staging for ‘Tout l’Univers’ went out the window and Gjon’s Tears delivered a phenomenal vocal performance. After a low of 6% yesterday, Switzerland have rightly climbed back up to 10% with a favourable running order draw, and this should be at the very least a strong contender to top the jury vote. This entry has been my pick to win since day one, and I think Gjon’s Tears could well win the contest tomorrow and give Switzerland their first win since Celine Dion in 1988.
Ukraine (9% chance at Smarkets)
If Ukraine *did* win the first semi-final on Tuesday, it’s very likely that they won the televote. Just as importantly, though, Go_A may have also held their own with the jury. Ukraine has a lot of televoting friends in Eurovision, so should expect to end up with a pretty large televote haul on Saturday. I reckon ‘Shum’ would likely need to win the televote to have a strong shot at winning tomorrow night, but that’s definitely on the cards. Will they receive enough jury support to take them over the line, though?
Iceland (5% chance at Smarkets)
Iceland climbed up to an 11% chance during the second semi-final last night, but they have since fallen back to 5% since the release of the running order (despite getting a pretty good draw). I expect Iceland will do well, but the fact the band cannot perform live due to a positive coronavirus test really makes this unpredictable. On the one hand, the circumstances will certainly garner Daði og Gagnamagnið some sympathy votes, but on the other it could put off wavering televoters, who may not want to vote for an entry that won’t be able to pick up the trophy and perform again if they win. A 5% chance seems broadly correct.
I’ve basically made a case for a number of contenders here, which I’m sure is not what you’re looking for, so if I had to narrow it down even further, I’d say Italy or Switzerland, with Ukraine as the dark horse.