As betting contests go, the annual camp kitsch gala of Eurovision is surprisingly accessible for the punter.
The modern contest rarely springs a big surprise, with the advent of social media polling, semi-finals, and Youtube providing some clear markers for the likely contenders. The old school rules of geographical bias and particularly running order bias remain strong, and the bookies are clear students of all these factors.
Using those rules, it seems clear that the organisers have stacked the main contenders into favourable late order draws, and as such it is pretty much the last block of 10 entries, performing after the second interval that should be the focus.
Cyprus’s Beyoncé impersonator has hardened to be the hot favourite after the semis, with Israel’s chicken impersonator a close second. Both have massively the largest Youtube viewing numbers and cracking late draws. That said the odds are now very skinny, and we would rather look elsewhere for value bets, whilst accepting (reluctantly from an audio perspective) that they are likely to fight it out.
Moldova gets our outright each way vote. They managed a remarkable third last year having been broadly disregarded by the jury vote (zero from 19/38 juries), they were a clear third in the public vote (points from all 38 tele-votes). Once again they present a cheesy number, underscored by ethnic Balkan rhythms, and joyfully performed with the use of a “hilarious” wall routine, and three kids-tv style performers dressed in Moldovan tricolour. It feels like something the Euro audience might get behind, and with few strong Eastern Europe contenders, they could garner a Balkan-eastern bloc bandwagon. They look too big a price.
Another interesting bet is the historically strong Ireland entry. Historically strong as in 80s and 90s, whilst of late performing terribly (apart from Jedward who performed terribly of course, but polled pretty well). Ryan O’Shaughnessy (of BGT fame) sings a reasonable ballad reasonably well, but has caused a bit of a stew with Eurovision’s first on-stage depiction of a same-sex relationship in the accompanying dance routine. TV in China decided to not broadcast this during the semis, so Eurovision withdrew their rights. Suddenly wee Ryan is the champion of LGBT rights, which may well play well with core elements of the Eurovision audience.
Whilst it is helpful the song is pretty good and is perfectly drawn at number 24, it is the prospect of a rainbow alliance that makes Ireland an attractive betting proposition. They are 20/1 outright paying 1/4 for top 4 (from 40/1 just yesterday…). Mathematically this makes the 11/2 on offer just for a top 4 finish fairly attractive. [Maths interlude: each way at 20/1 pays approx. 12/1 for a win, or 6/4 for 2-3-4th. given the remote prospect of the win, then 11/2 dominates significantly for a 2-3-4th spot – interlude over].
What of the UK? Well it promises to be another terrible night. A forgettable song from a nation that has visibly turned it’s back on Europe and received an appropriate backlash from the tele-vote last year. They are 1/4 to finish 21st or lower. They are highly unlikely to better that by any margin, that said they only need to beat 6 countries to make the 5/1 for 17th-20th look attractive. Even that could be a tall order given that all but 5 opponents have already established polling credentials by ranking high enough in the semis to be here. We will just about resist the 5/1, but it is probably the bet if you want UK interest.
Moldova, to win Eurovision 2018, 1pt each way, 66/1 Skybet (1/5th top 5)
Ireland, to be placed 1st-4th for Eurovision 2018, 1pt win, 11/2 Paddy Power
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