Editorials & Opinion

Stats time: The winners and losers of the Eurovision 2019 semifinal allocation draw

Yesterday, the semifinal allocation draw for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 took place in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. This can give us some insight into how the semifinals could go – who has the most “common voters” in their semifinal? We’ve taken a look into the stats to find out who will benefit most from the semifinal allocation draw. Keep reading to see how your country could be benefitted!

1. 1st Half vs. 2nd Half

It’s commonly thought that performing in the 2nd half of a semifinal gives you an advantage over those performing in the 1st half. This may be the case for the final, but for the semifinal it makes little difference which half you perform in. In the last 5 years, only two semifinals have not shown a ratio of 50:50 qualifiers between the 1st and 2nd halves. In 2015, 6 countries qualified from the 2nd half of both the semifinals.

This means that we really don’t need to pay much attention to which half each country draws. Unless you’re an uptempo song landing into a half full of ballads, you’re really not advantaged or disadvantaged either way.

2. So what should we pay attention to?

At this point, there are only two things that can give us an insight into how the semifinals will go in May. These are the qualification rate of each country and the number of “common voters” who are able to vote for each country. This is where we get really maths-y…


…but we’ll try to keep it as simple and easy to understand as possible!

Qualification Rates

The qualification rate is pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s the percentage of times that each country has succeeded in qualifying for the final. Looking at this can help us to understand how likely it is that a country’s entry will be liked enough by the jury and televoters for it to qualify.

If you’re wondering: no, there’s no difference between the average qualification rates for the countries in each semifinal. In fact, both semifinals have the exact same average qualification rate of 58%.

For our analyses, we looked over the last 5 years to see how often each country qualified during that period. Below, you can see who the most common qualifiers and most common non-qualifiers are:

…yes, poor North Macedonia have not qualified once in the last 5 years; their last qualification was way back in 2012 with Kaliopi’s Crno i Belo.

On the other hand, Australia, Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Sweden and Ukraine all have a perfect qualification record over the last 5 years. Will their streak end in 2019? Looking into how many of their “common voters” are able to vote for them may give us an indication…

The Common Voters

No, these are not the people who voted for the 2014 Dutch entry by The Common Linnets. In Eurovision, some countries vote more often for certain countries (we’re looking at you, Cyprus and Greece). We’ll refer to these countries as “common voters”. For example, Belarus is one of Russia’s common voters. For our analyses, we’ve looked at each country’s top 5 common voters. Are those common voters able to vote in that country’s semifinal (e.g. is Montenegro able to vote for Serbia?)

Below, you can see our results:

This analysis spells disaster for Armenia, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, North Macedonia and San Marino – only one of their top 5 common voters are able to vote for them! This suggests that this could be the year for Australia’s first ever non-qualifier in Eurovision. Particularly after last year’s massively disappointing televoting result in the final, it seems likely that it could happen…

Jessica Mauboy is very upset to hear about Australia’s semi-final allocation draw…

However, Moldova, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland all have 4 of their top 5 common voters able to vote for them. This is very promising for these countries. We could see Romania and Switzerland returning to the final, and Portugal may be able to stay in the final now that their free pass has expired!

There is a slight difference between the semifinals in this case. The countries in semifinal 2 have on average 0.5 more common voters than the countries in semifinal 1. This is unlikely to affect the final result, but may result in a more tense and dramatic qualifier announcement.

3. Combining qualification rate and common voters

You’ve probably realised that it’s kind of hard to clearly see what the result could be with these different measures. Australia for example have a perfect qualification record but were one of the losers of the semifinal allocation draw, with only one of their top 5 common voters able to vote for them. So, let’s combine the two measures and see what we get.

Norway has shot up to be the most likely qualifier of Eurovision 2019. Given their 80% qualification rate over the last 5 years and the fact that 4 out of their top 5 common voters are able to vote for them, this is no real surprise. Norway just edges out Austria, Cyprus, Romania and Sweden for the top spot.

With their 0% qualification rate and only 1 common voter, North Macedonia are unfortunately the least likely to qualify at this point – even less than San Marino, which is really saying something…North Macedonia is closely followed by San Marino, Belgium, Iceland and Ireland.

Looking at our previous analyses…

Several of our 100% qualifiers have slipped down in the odds slightly. Australia in particular is the 26th most likely to qualify out of all semifinalists – despite having a 100% qualification rate, they only have 1 common voter. Ukraine and Hungary have also moved to 8th and 9th most likely to qualify respectively.

Of the countries with 4 of 5 common voters able to vote for them, Switzerland is least likely to qualify. As they have only qualified once in the last 5 years, all the way back in 2014 with Sebalter, this has pulled them all the way down to 27th most likely to qualify. Although, Sebalter is back in Switzerland’s national final again this year. Could he bring Switzerland back to the final? It looks like if anybody could do it, it’d be him…

Sebalter is incredibly excited for the Swiss national final

One of the countries suffering most from the semifinal allocation draw is the Netherlands. Only 1 of their common voters are able to vote for them. The Netherlands also has an 80% qualification rate over the last 5 years, after only not qualifying in 2015 with Trijntje Oosterhuis and Walk Along. However, this is not enough to keep them likely to qualify, and our analyses unfortunately show that the Netherlands is 28th most likely to qualify.

What do you think of our analyses? Stats can sometimes be wrong, is there anywhere in particular you hope they are this year? How does your country look to do in Tel Aviv?

Let us know in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA

Luke Malam

I've watched Eurovision for as long as I can remember, but my interest really built in 2008, after I decided to watch the semifinals online, out of boredom, before the final...I was blown away by the quality of the show and have been hooked ever since! I'm a competitive trampolinist and I love baking. I've also just completed a master's degree in Research Methods in Psychology at University College London.

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