Rediscovering 14 years of Eurovision odds: We analyse and reminisce

This is an updated version of an article published in March 2019

In recent years, I’ve perhaps had a slightly unhealthy obsession with Eurovision odds and continue to do so. I often believe that they can’t be that wrong when it comes to the results at Eurovision itself. In the weeks before their respective contests, I was convinced France had it in the bag in 2011, Armenia the same in 2014, Russia in 2016 and Italy in 2017. They were all such strong favourites that surely they would follow in the footsteps of other strong favourites such as Alexander Rybak and Loreen? Nevertheless, this didn’t turn out to be the case.

Are odds really a good indicator of the eventual results?

For many fans, betting odds are considered the most important ranking when it comes to predicting where entries will finish in May. Fan forum rankings or YouTube views can always be skewed by either the often atypical taste of Eurovision fans or the size of the populations of the participating countries. Yet, with odds, people have to put their money where their mouth is. They have to think with their head rather than follow their heart.

To discover how good an indicator betting odds really have been in predicting Eurovision successes prior to action kicking off at rehearsals, we are about to take a look back at the last fourteen years of betting odds which are as far back as buzzjack.com‘s odds archive goes. For each contest, we’ve used recordings of odds from approximately a month before the contest. This is ideal as it doesn’t take into account the effect of rehearsals on odds. However, people will have had weeks to get to know all the entries and make logical predictions.

Helsinki 2007

Firstly, let’s look back at the odds ahead of the 2007 contest in Helsinki. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 16th, 26 days before the final on May 12th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
15/1 SwitzerlandDJ Bobo – Vampires Are AliveSF (20th)
27/1 SwedenThe Ark – The Worrying Kind18th
38/1 SerbiaMarija Šerifović – Molitva1st
48/1 BelarusKoldun – Work Your Magic6th
511/1 UkraineVerka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai2nd
611/1 BulgariaElitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov – Water5th
712/1 RussiaSerebro – Song #13rd
814/1 GreeceSarbel – Yassou Maria7th
916/1 RomaniaTodomondo – Liubi, Liubi, I Love You13th
1016/1 CyprusEvridiki – Comme ci, Comme çaSF (15th)
1120/1 SloveniaAlenka Gotar – Cvet Z Juga15th
1220/1 United KingdomScooch – Flying The Flag (For You)22nd
1320/1 MaltaOlivia Lewis – VertigoSF (25th)
1425/1 LatviaBonaparti.lv – Questa Notte16th
1525/1 SpainD’NASH – I Love You Mi Vida20th

Analysis

As we can see, Switzerland were favourites to win the contest prior to the 2007 contest. It was, therefore, an almighty shock for them to not make it through the semi-final in 2007. Indeed, it was an even bigger surprise to see them languish in 20th out of the 28 semi-finalists that year. Sweden was another misfire by the bookmakers, but the rest of the highest placing countries in the odds achieved high placings at the contest.

The other two most overrated entries were from Cyprus and Malta who both failed to make the final. In fact, Malta’s Olivia Lewis found herself in the bottom 4 in the semi-final with Vertigo. This result was a major disappointment considering the pre-contest odds ranking of 13th.

Belgrade 2008

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2008 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 23rd, 31 days before the final on May 24th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
17/2 RussiaDima Bilan – Believe1st
29/2 SerbiaJelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugić – Oro6th
35/1 IrelandDustin The Turkey – Irelande Douze PointeSF (15th)
411/2 ArmeniaSirusho – Qele, Qele4th
57/1 UkraineAni Lorak – Shady Lady2nd
69/1 SwedenCharlotte Perrelli – Hero18th
718/1 BulgariaDeep Zone and Balthazar – DJ, Take Me AwaySF (11th)
820/1 GreeceKalomira – Secret Combination3rd
920/1 SpainRodolfo Chikilicuatre – Baila El Chiki-Chiki16th
1022/1 FranceSébastian Tellier – Divine19th
1125/1 Bosnia & HerzegovinaLaka – Pokušaj10th
1225/1 LatviaPirates Of The Sea – Wolves Of The Sea12th
1325/1 TurkeyMor ve Ötesi – Deli7th
1425/1 SwitzerlandPaolo Meneguzzi – Era StupendoSF (13th)
1525/1 RomaniaNico and Vlad – Pe-o Margine de Lume20th

Analysis

Eventual winners Russia were long-term favourites back in 2008. Although they were consistently under pressure from ArmeniaSerbia and Ukraine who all went on to finish in the top six. On the other hand, Ireland was also amongst that chasing pack. Dustin The Turkey had received substantial media coverage across Europe. In particular, media coverage was high across the UK and Ireland where this betting agency is based. In the end, the media coverage didn’t turn into votes and Ireland failed to make the final.

Returning Eurovision winner Charlotte Perrelli didn’t quite live up to expectations as Sweden required the jury wildcard to make it through the semi-final. Hero went on to finish 18th, well down on its odds ranking of 6th. Bulgaria and Switzerland were both considered amongst the front-runners but failed to make it out of the semi-finals. Yet, Greece exceeded expectations as Kalomira battled for victory at the end of the Saturday show.

Moscow 2009

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2009 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 7th, 39 days before the final on May 16th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4 NorwayAlexander Rybak – Fairytale1st
29/2 GreeceSakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night7th
38/1 TurkeyHadise – Düm Tek Tek4th
48/1 MontenegroAndrea Demirović – Just Get Out Of My LifeSF (11th)
510/1 AzerbaijanAySel and Arash – Always3rd
612/1 SwedenMalena Ernman – La Voix21st
714/1 MaltaChiara – What If We?22nd
818/1 United KingdomJade Ewen – It’s My Time5th
925/1 EstoniaUrban Symphony – Rändajad6th
1025/1 Bosnia & HerzegovinaRegina – Bistra Voda9th
1125/1 FrancePatricia Kaas – Et S’il Fallait Le Faire8th
1225/1 SpainSoraya – La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me)24th
1325/1 RussiaAnastasiya Prikhodko – Mamo11th
1433/1 FinlandWaldo’s People – Lose Control25th
1533/1 IcelandYohanna – Is It True?2nd

Analysis

Norway were clear favourites in 2009 with only Greece considered any sort of real opposition. Indeed, Norway went on to secure a record-breaking victory. On the other hand, Greece slightly underperformed against expectations. The main talking point here is Montenegro‘s failure to qualify. The country had yet to qualify as an independent nation but Andrea Demirović was one of the most fancied entries of the year. However, performing first in her semi-final could have played a significant part in Montenegro agonisingly missing out on the first qualification by one place.

Yohanna of Iceland was the breakthrough success of the contest, placing a strong second despite being fancied as a mid-table finalist at best. On the other hand, Sweden‘s Malena Ernman and Malta‘s star artist Chiara didn’t live up to expectations and finished in the bottom 5 of the final. Nevertheless, overall the odds predicted 2009 much better than 2007 and 2008. Was this due to the implementation of the jury vote? Perhaps it was a result of Eurovision becoming an increasingly bigger deal on the Internet with more information more easily obtainable? Maybe we will find some answers as we continue our journey.

Our journey down memory lane continues on the next page…

Oslo 2010

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2010 contest. These odds were recorded from William Hill on May 6th, 23 days before the final on May 29th. Only the top 10 ranked countries were recorded in this instance.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
15/2 GermanyLena – Satellite1st
25/2 AzerbaijanSafura – Drip Drop5th
38/1 DenmarkChanée & N’evergreen – In A Moment Like This4th
48/1 IsraelHarel Skaat – Milim14th
514/1 ArmeniaEva Rivas – Apricot Stone7th
616/1 CroatiaFeminnem – Lako Je SveSF (13th)
720/1 NorwayDidrik Solli-Tangen – My Heart Is Yours20th
822/1 SwedenAnna Bergendahl – This Is My LifeSF (11th)
925/1 IrelandNiamh Kavanagh – It’s For You23rd
1028/1 GreeceGiorgos Alkaios and Friends – OPA8th

Analysis

Germany and Azerbaijan were clear betting leaders in 2010. The former matched that expectation by taking the victory. Azerbaijan may have been able to put up a close fight but was drawn to open the show whereas Lena performed four songs from the end. Two outsiders completed the top three with Turkey and Romania not fancied at all prior to the contest. We also saw two key favourites fromCroatia and Sweden fail to qualify for the final.

Furthermore, there was an under-performance from returning Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh for Ireland. When factoring in this result, plus Croatia’s returning artist Feminnem and Sweden’s returning winner Charlotte Perrelli in 2008 who both also failed to live up to their odds, it does seem that there is a tendency for returning artists to be over-predicted by betting odds. Both Sakis Rouvas and Chiara would also fit this pattern in 2009.

Düsseldorf 2011

Now it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2011 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 24th, 20 days before the final on May 14th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
14/1 FranceAmaury Vassili – Sognu15th
213/2 EstoniaGetter Jaani – Rockefeller Street24th
37/1 United KingdomBlue – I Can11th
48/1 HungaryKati Wolf – What About My Dreams?22nd
510/1 SwedenEric Saade – Popular3rd
610/1 Bosnia & HerzegovinaDino Merlin – Love In Rewind6th
712/1 AzerbaijanEll & Nikki – Running Scared1st
812/1 NorwayStella Mwangi – Haba HabaSF (17th)
912/1 GermanyLena – Taken By A Stranger10th
1020/1 RussiaAlexej Vorobjov – Get You16th
1120/1 IrelandJedward – Lipstick8th
1220/1 DenmarkA Friend In London – New Tomorrow5th
1333/1 ItalyRaphael Gualazzi – Madness Of Love2nd
1440/1 RomaniaHotel FM – Change17th
1540/1 PolandMagdalena Tul – JestemSF (19th)

Analysis

2011 is often deemed to be one of the most open contests in the recent decade and the statistics certainly prove this. Only Sweden lived up to the pre-contest odds of being a contender. Whereas the other countries amongst the top 5 favourites all failed to make the top 10. While Estonia and Hungary failing to break out of the bottom 5 in the final would’ve shocked many bookmakers, Norway‘s failure to qualify by some distance is the ultimate overestimation in the odds this time around.

Going against recent patterns, Germany‘s returning winner Lena was the 9th favourite to win and finished 10th. We have already discovered that returning artists tend to be over-predicted. However, with Lena returning immediately after her first appearance, perhaps the hype around her wasn’t quite as significant as it would’ve been if she returned a few years later on. Furthermore, fans probably realised that two wins in a row for the same artist do seem quite an unlikely outcome.

Baku 2012

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2012 contest. These odds were recorded from Sky Bet on April 25th, 31 days before the final on May 26th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
19/4 SwedenLoreen – Euphoria1st
28/1 ItalyNina Zilli – L’amore è femmina (Out Of Love)9th
310/1 RussiaBuranovskiye Babushki – Party For Everybody2nd
411/1 SerbiaŽeljko Joksimović – Nije Ljubav Stvar3rd
514/1 DenmarkSoluna Samay – Should’ve Known Better23rd
614/1 United KingdomEngelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free25th
716/1 IrelandJedward – Waterline19th
818/1 SpainPastora Soler – Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)10th
920/1 GermanyRoman Lob – Standing Still8th
1020/1 NorwayTooji – Stay26th
1122/1 IcelandGreta Salóme and Jónsi – Never Forget20th
1225/1 GreeceEleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac17th
1328/1 RomaniaMandinga – Zaleilah12th
1428/1 TurkeyCan Bonomo – Love Me Back7th
1533/1 CyprusIvi Adamou – La La Love16th

Analysis

Sweden were runaway favourites. Thus, it was, therefore, no surprise Loreen secured a landslide victory in Baku. Russia and Serbia were both tipped to be amongst the front-runners and both finished in the top 3. Most notably, the other top 6 finishers at Eurovision, AzerbaijanAlbania and Estonia were nowhere to be seen in the top 15. All three were powerful ballads which many agree benefited from live performances. Therefore, maybe this isn’t such a surprise.

Ireland is the latest to fall into the trap of an overhyped returning artist as Jedward fell way below expectations with their second entry in as many years. Denmark and the United Kingdom were the other countries who failed to live up to their odds. With the very well-known Engelbert Humperdinck representing the latter, people perhaps expected that name power and the subsequent media coverage to translate into votes.

Our journey down memory lane continues on the next page…

Malmö 2013

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2013 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 18th, 30 days before the final on May 18th.

It is important to note that this is the first recording used from Oddschecker. With this website displaying only the best possible odds from a variety of different bookmakers, the range between the odds in the top 15 is much larger.If just a single bookmaker was recorded as in previous years, it is likely the range would be similar to what we have seen between 2007 and 2012.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4 DenmarkEmmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops1st
28/1 NorwayMargaret Berger – I Feed You My Love4th
312/1 UkraineZlata Ognevich – Gravity3rd
416/1 RussiaDina Garipova – What If5th
516/1 SwedenRobin Stjernberg – You14th
619/1 The NetherlandsAnouk – Birds9th
725/1 GermanyCascada – Glorious21st
825/1 GeorgiaNodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall15th
925/1 ItalyMarco Mengoni – L’Essenziale7th
1033/1 AzerbaijanFarid Mammadov – Hold Me2nd
1140/1 San MarinoValentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola)SF (11th)
1250/1 United KingdomBonnie Tyler – Believe In Me19th
1366/1 IrelandRyan Dolan – Only Love Survives26th
1466/1 BelarusAlyona Lanskaya – Solayoh16th
1575/1 GreeceKoza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free6th

Analysis

This time around Denmark were the runaway favourites and scored a fairly easy victory. The odds were more reliable than ever in 2013, with only Azerbaijan of the eventual top 5 finishers not amongst the top 5 in the odds. Farid’s stage performance is often considered a key reason behind the success of Hold Me. This was, of course, a factor that wouldn’t have been known about the month before. One of the most notable talking points here was San Marino‘s failure to qualify. Fan favourite Valentina Monetta was another returning artist to be over-predicted by the odds. Although Crisalide (Vola) was a much more competitive entry than The Social Network Song was a year earlier.

The other major talking point was the under-performance of Germany. Cascada was the most well-known act prior the contest alongside the United Kingdom‘s Bonnie Tyler and received significant media coverage particularly in Western Europe where the majority of these bookmakers are based. Both of these acts failed to live up to expectations. When taking into account Engelbert’s performance in 2012, it seems like gamblers are wrongly associating media coverage and artist popularity with good results. After all, it is a song contest!

Copenhagen 2014

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2014 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 7th, 33 days before the final on May 10th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4 ArmeniaAram MP3 – Not Alone4th
211/2 SwedenSanna Nielsen – Undo3rd
312/1 DenmarkBasim – Cliché Love Song9th
412/1 NorwayCarl Espen – Silent Storm8th
518/1 HungaryAndrás Kállay-Saunders – Running5th
620/1 United KingdomMolly – Children Of The Universe17th
720/1 UkraineMariya Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock6th
820/1 AzerbaijanDilara Kazimova – Start A Fire22nd
925/1 BelgiumAxel Hirsoux – MotherSF (14th)
1025/1 RomaniaPaula Seling & OVI – Miracle12th
1140/1 RussiaTolmachevy Sisters – Shine7th
1266/1 ItalyEmma Marrone – La Mia Città21st
1366/1 GreeceFreaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd – Rise Up20th
1466/1 IsraelMei Finegold – Same HeartSF (14th)
1566/1 IrelandCan-Linn feat. Kasey Smith – HeartbeatSF (12th)

Analysis

2014 has become the go-to contest when it comes to arguing that odds aren’t always correct. Both Austria and The Netherlands were outside the top 15 of the odds a month prior to them finishing top 2 in Copenhagen. Furthermore, the live performances of the Austrian and Dutch entries have become leading examples in how to perfectly stage a Eurovision entry. As the years have progressed, stages have offered more and more options for delegations to enhance their songs. This is something bookmakers cannot predict and 2014 was the first year they were truly stung.

Elsewhere, Belgium was the key underperformer as Axel Hirsoux failed to progress from his semi-final. Even though these odds are for victory, they perhaps suggested that Ireland and Israel were also expected to make it to the grand final. Arguably the live performance and running order draw respectively led to the failure of two fan favourites.

Vienna 2015

Now it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2015 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 25th, 28 days before the final on May 23rd.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4 SwedenMåns Zelmerlöw – Heroes1st
27/2 ItalyIl Volo – Grande Amore3rd
35/1 AustraliaGuy Sebastian – Tonight Again5th
410/1 EstoniaElina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday7th
525/1 FinlandPertti Kurikan Nimipäivät – Aina Mun PitääSF (16th)
625/1 RussiaPolina Gagarina – A Million Voices2nd
725/1 NorwayMørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me8th
825/1 SloveniaMaraaya – Here For You14th
933/1 AzerbaijanElnur Huseynov – Hour Of The Wolf12th
1050/1 IcelandMaria Olafs – UnbrokenSF (15th)
1150/1 United KingdomElectro Velvet – Still In Love With You24th
1250/1 BelgiumLoïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside4th
1366/1 SpainEdurne – Amanecer21st
1466/1 AlbaniaElhaida Dani – I’m Alive17th
1580/1 ArmeniaGenealogy – Face The Shadow16th

Analysis

The bookmakers were back on form for 2015, correctly installing Sweden as the slight favourite. Italy was expected to be in close contention and rightly so. Il Volo won the televote only to lose out due to a lower jury ranking. Russia and Belgium were both in and around the top 10 and both gained extra momentum once we set foot in Vienna, something that wouldn’t have been known in April.

The main talking point in 2015 was the shock elimination of Finland in the semi-finals. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät was the act with the most pre-contest media coverage across Europe and the bookmakers responded accordingly. However, like with Cascada, Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck in recent years, the media coverage didn’t translate into success at the contest.

Our journey down memory lane continues on the next page…

Stockholm 2016

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2016 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 13th, 31 days before the final on May 14th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
17/4 RussiaSergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One3rd
213/2 FranceAmir – J’ai cherché6th
311/1 SwedenFrans – If I Were Sorry5th
414/1 AustraliaDami Im – Sound Of Silence2nd
520/1 MaltaIra Losco – Walk On Water12th
620/1 UkraineJamala – 19441st
722/1 ArmeniaIveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave7th
822/1 LatviaJusts – Heartbeat15th
925/1 SerbiaSanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter)18th
1033/1 SpainBarei – Say Yay!22nd
1135/1 BulgariaPoli Genova – If Love Was A Crime4th
1240/1 ItalyFrancesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation16th
1345/1 CroatiaNina Kraljić – Lighthouse23rd
1450/1 PolandMichał Szpak – Color Of Your Life8th
1550/1 The NetherlandsDouwe Bob – Slow Down11th

Analysis

Since 2007, 2016 is the most predictable contest so far according to the odds. 11 of the top 15 at Eurovision were placed inside the top 15 of the odds a month prior to the contest. Nevertheless, Ukraine‘s eventual victory wasn’t quite on the horizon with the odds seemingly suggesting Jamala be more of an each-way contender rather than an outright winner. Malta‘s Ira Losco is the next returning artist to have been overhyped by the odds. Although for a change, Poli Genova’s return for Bulgaria was under-predicted by the odds and surprised many by going top 5 despite being a fan favourite.

The biggest positive surprises last year were the top 10 finishes for Lithuania and Belgium. Neither Donny Montell or Laura Tesoro was in the top 15 of the odds. Nevertheless, their slick, professional and upbeat performances wowed audiences on the night to overachieve against their odds!

Kyiv 2017

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2017 contest in Kyiv. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 21st, 22 days before the final on May 13th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
113/10 ItalyFrancesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma6th
213/2 BulgariaKristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess2nd
39/1 SwedenRobin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On5th
414/1 PortugalSalvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois1st
520/1 BelgiumBlanche – City Lights4th
633/1 AustraliaIsaiah – Don’t Come Easy9th
733/1 ArmeniaArtsvik – Fly With Me18th
840/1 FranceAlma – Requiem12th
950/1 AzerbaijanDihaj – Skeletons14th
1050/1 DenmarkAnja – Where I Am20th
1150/1 HungaryJoci Pápai – Origo8th
1266/1 GreeceDemy – This Is Love19th
1380/1 RomaniaIlinca ft. Alex Florea – Yodel It!7th
14100/1 The NetherlandsOG3NE – Lights And Shadows11th
15100/1 EstoniaKoit Toome & Laura – VeronaSF (14th)

Analysis

Stockholm 2016’s odds were the first to correctly predict 11 of the top 15 finishers. Nevertheless, Kyiv 2017 managed the exact same feat while also predicting four of the top 5 – one more than Stockholm’s pre-contest odds predicted. Therefore, it seems that the contest really is becoming more predictable…

However, clear favourites Italy were not able to live up to the hype placing 6th in the grand final. The success of the rest of the top 5 was foreseen, with the clear exception of Moldova. Indeed, Sunstroke Project was available at over 100/1 to win the contest and could’ve been a great each-way bet for those who believed in Hey Mamma. Portugal‘s record-breaking victory wasn’t always destined to be on the cards, with Salvador only 4th favourite to win prior to rehearsals kicking off at the end of April.

Norway‘s JOWST was never considered to be in contention, so the 10th place for Grab the Moment would have been a positive surprise for the Norwegians. On the other hand, it was Koit Toome & Laura from Estonia, both returnees to Eurovision, who was the fan favourites to fall. The jury was not impressed with Verona in the second semi-final, ultimately causing the biggest shock from the 2017 semi-finals.

Lisbon 2018

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2018 contest in Lisbon. These odds were recorded from Skybet on April 16th, 26 days before the final on May 12th.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
17/4 IsraelNetta – TOY1st
211/2 BulgariaEQUINOX – Bones14th
313/2 Czech RepublicMikolas Josef – Lie To Me6th
48/1 AustraliaJessica Mauboy – We Got Love20th
59/1 EstoniaElina Nechayeva – La Forza8th
616/1 SwedenBenjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off7th
720/1 FranceMadame Monsieur – Mercy13th
820/1 NorwayAlexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song15th
925/1 BelgiumSennek – A Matter Of TimeSF (12th)
1025/1 SpainAmaia & Alfred – Tu Canción23rd
1128/1 GreeceYianna Terzi – Oniro MouSF (14th)
1233/1 ItalyErmal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente5th
1340/1 The NetherlandsWaylon – Outlaw In ‘Em18th
1450/1 FinlandSaara Aalto – Monsters25th
1566/1 AustriaCesár Sampson – Nobody But You3rd

Analysis

After Stockholm and Kyiv were two of the most predictable contests in memory in terms of similarities to the pre-contest betting odds, Lisbon was arguably one of the most unpredictable. Whilst Israel was correctly predicted as the winner, the rest of the eventual top five were much further down the odds.

Most notably we must point out Cyprus and Germany, neither of which were inside the top 15 of the betting odds less than a month before the Eurovision 2018 grand final. This is even more extraordinary when you consider that on the day of the final, Eleni Foureira was even favourite to take the crown! Both of these acts had arguably two of the strongest stage shows in Lisbon, with Eleni’s outrageous energy and Michael’s emotional LED screen.

Austria‘s Cesár Sampson was almost a third name to add to the list of top 5 shockers, only 15th in the odds a month before his eventual top three finish. No one expected Austria’s jury victory in Lisbon, and this largely was the cause of Austria’s podium placing.

Belgium and Greece, both in and around the top 10 of the odds, both failed to make it out of the so-called “bloodbath” that was the first semi-final in 2018. Although lacklustre stage presentations from both meant that it was perhaps the unfancied ZiBBZ from Switzerland that became the most surprising non-qualifiers.

Our journey down memory lane on the next page…

Tel Aviv 2019

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv. These odds were recorded from Eurovision World on April 13th, 35 days before the final on May 18th. As Eurovision World is a comparison site, we’ve taken the shortest odds available for each country.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
13/2 The NetherlandsDuncan Laurence – Arcade1st
219/4 SwitzerlandLuca Hänni – She Got Me4th
35/1 RussiaSergey Lazarev – Scream3rd
413/2 ItalyMahmood – Soldi2nd
57/1 SwedenJohn Lundvik – Too Late For Love5th
612/1 IcelandHatari – Hatrið mun sigra10th
720/1 CyprusTamta – Replay13th
825/1 NorwayKEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky6th
925/1 PortugalConan Osíris – TelemóveisSF (15th)
1028/1 GreeceKaterine Duska – Better Love21st
1128/1 MaltaMichela – Chameleon14th
1233/1 ArmeniaSrbuk – Walking OutSF (16th)
1333/1 DenmarkLeonora – Love Is Forever12th
1433/1 FranceBilal Hassani – Roi16th
1533/1 SloveniaZala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi15th

Analysis

The most recent completed contest, Tel Aviv in 2019, was arguably the most predictable contest of those that we have analysed in this article. For the first time, the odds predicted the top 5 nations with 100% accuracy… and almost in order to with just Switzerland and Italy swapping places in the final results.

The biggest surprise of 2019 was North Macedonia‘s Tamara Todevska whose victory in the jury vote took her to an impressive seventh place for her nation, a personal best finish for the Balkan nation. Also making the top 10 despite not featuring in the top 15 of the odds a month before were eighth-placed Chingiz from Azerbaijan and ninth-placed Kate Miller-Heidke from Australia. Interestingly, both of these nations were amongst those most praised for their innovative staging performances, something that couldn’t have been anticipated prior to rehearsals.

On the other hand, Armenia and Portugal were the nations fancied to do well that failed to qualify for the final in Tel Aviv. Whilst Srbuk from Armenia could’ve suffered from opening the second semi-final, Portugal’s Conan Osíris had no such disadvantage. Both Walking Out and Telemóveis were amongst the entries most unique in style and perhaps dark and inaccessible staging concepts were too much for the Eurovision voters to enjoy. Greece‘s underperformance relative to the odds could also be linked to these reasons, with the artistry and quirkiness of Better Love finishing towards the lower end in the final.

Eurovision 2020

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the eventually cancelled 2020 contest. These odds were recorded from Eurovision World on March 18th, the day of the contest’s cancellation. As Eurovision World is a comparison site, we’ve taken the shortest odds available for each country excluding those bookmakers that hadn’t updated the odds in the days preceding the cancellation.

RankOddsCountryEntry
14/1 BulgariaVICTORIA – Tears Getting Sober
24/1 RussiaLittle Big – Uno
34/1 SwitzerlandGjon’s Tears – Répondez-moi
422/5 LithuaniaThe Roop – On Fire
59/2 IcelandDaði og Gagnamagnið – Think About Things
611/2 ItalyDiodato – Fai Rumore
78/1 GermanyBen Dolic – Violent Thing
89/1 RomaniaROXEN – Alcohol You
910/1 MaltaDestiny – All Of My Love
1012/1 AzerbaijanEfendi – Cleopatra
1118/1 SwedenThe Mamas – Move
1219/1 NorwayUlrikke – Attention
1320/1 AustraliaMontaigne – Don’t Break Me
1425/1 DenmarkBen & Tan – YES
1525/1 The NetherlandsJeangu Macrooy – Grow

Analysis

Whilst we will not include this contest in our analysis for obvious reasons, I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating to look back at what could have been!

Rotterdam 2021

It’s now time to look forward to the 2021 contest in Rotterdam and record the odds ready for analysis this time next year! These odds were recorded from bet365 on March 29th, 54 days before the final on May 22nd.

RankOddsCountryEntry
110/3 MaltaDestiny – Je Me Casse
210/3 SwitzerlandGjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers
313/2 FranceBarbara Pravi – Voilà
48/1 BulgariaVICTORIA – Growing Up Is Getting Old
59/1 ItalyMåneskin – Zitti E Buoni
611/1 SwedenTusse – Voices
714/1 IcelandDaði og Gagnamagnið – 10 Years
814/1 LithuaniaThe Roop – Discoteque
922/1 CyprusElena Tsagrinou – El Diablo
1033/1 FinlandBlind Channel – Dark Side
1133/1 NorwayTIX – Fallen Angel
1240/1 GreeceStefania – Last Dance
1340/1 MoldovaNatalia Gordienko – Sugar
1440/1 RussiaManizha – Russian Woman
1540/1 San MarinoSenhit – Adrenalina

Now without further ado, it’s time to analyse all of the statistics we’ve collected over the past fourteen years and find out just how accurate bookmakers are in predicting the results in May…

Our journey down memory lane and our final analysis continues on the next page…

Key findings

The mathematical stuff

It’s nice just to reminisce and look back at the past, but it’s also nice to try and make a couple of conclusions here and there! I’m not going to pretend to be any mathematical genius but I’ve plotted the percentages calculated below each chart in the paragraphs above into a graph.

The orange line shows what percentage of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds that year. The grey line shows what percentage of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds that year. The blue and green lines show the overall trends over the past 11 years regarding how accurate the top 5 and 15 of the odds have been in predicting the top 5 and top 15 finishers respectively in any order.

Odds have become increasingly more accurate indicators

Overall, this tells us that over the past thirteen years, odds-to-win have become increasingly reliable at predicting which countries will finish both inside the top 5 and those inside the top 15. This is shown by both the blue and green trend lines trending upwards over the decade. However, after a very predictable 2019, the top 5 in particular has become more significant.

Taking the figures at face value, we can discover the following:

Other observations

The most notable pattern when it came to discovering which type of entries tended to underperform at Eurovision were those countries who were being represented by returning artists. Perhaps this is because Eurovision fans are already familiar with these artists and therefore pay their entries more attention then they would do otherwise. Returning artists often result in more fanfare on various media websites. Particularly the likes of Charlotte Perrelli, Niamh Kavanagh or Ira Losco who were previous winners and runner-ups returning for their nations.

Talking about media coverage, well-known artists are also susceptible to being overhyped in the odds. A well-known artist being selected for Eurovision immediately results in more media coverage, whether it be Blue, Engelbert Humperdinck or Cascada. This seems to immediately translate into more betting support than they should probably be getting, particularly when these acts are from Western European countries. As the bookmakers we are analysing here are largely based in Western Europe, these acts are likely to have more effect on the odds than a major star from an Eastern European country for example due to a lack of name recognition amongst the users of these betting agencies.

Let’s revisit in May

I look forward to revisiting these conclusions in May when we can compare the results from the 2021 contest with what we have discovered here. Can Malta’s Destiny or Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears follow in the footsteps of Netta and Duncan Laurence and make it three-in-a-row for turning a lead in the odds to Eurovision victory? Furthermore, the data that at least three of the current top 5 in the odds – Malta, Switzerland, France, Bulgaria and Italy – will be top 5 in the grand final. Who will they be?

Do let us know in the comments section below or via our social media pages if you have any thoughts about all of these statistics! Were you surprised to see DJ Bobo topping the odds in 2007? Perhaps you’d forgotten Dustin The Turkey was deemed a potential winner in 2008? Make sure you visit us @ESCXTRA!

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