Odds Monitor: Day Zero!

by Richard West-Soley 4,498 views

With less than two weeks to go before the beginning of the final, many are looking at the bookmakers’ betting odds to get an idea of how the dice will fall on Eurovision night. And, as esctoday.com tradition goes, so do we, as we return to our regular odds round-ups in the run-up to the big show.
Enthusiastic long-term punters will have noticed a trend: over the last decade, the odds have become ever more accurate. 2017 was a case in point, with Portugal surging into the favourite position across betting outlets, and going on to win. Even when a favourite misses the mark, the bookies are just a hair’s breadth off course. In 2016, averaged-out odds on the night of the final placed Russia, Australia and Ukraine in the top three, in that order. In the end, it was Ukraine that snatched the crown, although all three would have netted a win as a place bet. But in 2015, uncannily, the bookmakers not only had the winner, but the exact order of the top five, too.

Crowdsourcing predictions

So how have bookmakers emerged as an ever more finely-tuned instrument for predicting Eurovision success? It is no doubt partly down to the increasing popularity of the contest. Odds represent a collected pool of expectations, as numbers shorten on popular songs expected to do well. The more people in the pool, the higher the accuracy of the crowdsourced prediction.
Of course, there is still room for wide-off-the-mark error, particularly further down the table with the lesser-fancied favourites. Fans are getting used to the annual semifinal flops, for example – those highly regarded songs that fail to make it to the final, despite starting Eurovision fortnight riding high with punters. Estonia and Finland 2017 are very recent examples; Sweden 2010 is a more distant memory (although still shocking to some).
Amongst the finalists, Italy’s Francesco Gabbani was a higher-performing casualty of bookies’ overconfidence last year; he fought Portugal gallantly for the favourite spot in the odds, only to finish in a relatively disappointing, but nonetheless very respectable sixth place.

The state of play : day zero

With all that in mind, here is the current top ten for an overall win at the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, averaged across bookmakers:
  1. Israel
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Australia
  5. France
  6. Estonia
  7. Norway
  8. Sweden
  9. Belgium
  10. Greece
At the bottom of the table, Montenegro, Slovenia, Iceland and San Marino are currently attracting the least confidence for a win.

The first hurdle

The first concern for most performers is semifinal success, of course. And with the first semifinalist rehearsals due to start tomorrow, here are the top ten countries when ranked by average odds on qualification from semi 1:
  1. Israel
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Estonia
  5. Greece
  6. Belgium
  7. Cyprus
  8. Austria
  9. Azerbaijan
  10. Armenia
Just missing out, according to the current standings, would be Finland, Lithuania, Belarus, Switzerland, FYR Macedonia, Albania, Ireland, Croatia and Iceland, in that order. However, as eager betters see rehearsal clips over the coming days, we can expect much shuffling around as chances are reassessed.
The state of play for semi 2 qualification is as follows:
  1. Sweden
  2. Australia
  3. Norway
  4. Ukraine
  5. Netherlands
  6. Denmark
  7. Poland
  8. Russia
  9. Latvia
  10. Moldova
The expected unlucky acts are predicted to be Hungary, Romania, Malta, Serbia, Montenegro, Georgia, Slovenia and San Marino.
Have the bookies got it broadly correct at this stage? Which predictions look wildly wrong, if any? And which countries will be the happy – and sad – surprises this year? Everything is to play for as the acts are poised to start rehearsing.
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