Editorials & Opinion🇸🇪 Sweden

Analysing a Melodifestivalen draw based on 7 years of results

It’s almost that time of year again. The national final season has begun with Czech Republic and Albania, but many fans will have been waiting for today’s running order draw for Melodifestivalen 2022. Widely regarded as the most popular national selection process that Eurovision fans enjoy annually, fans tend to believe that certain running order spots guarantee success: last act in heat 4, anybody?

But how much does this actually stack up in practice? Does the last slot in the final heat guarantee a winner? Does it even guarantee a finalist? We’ve looked at the last 7 years of results in a system where 7 songs compete in each of the 4 heats. We also went one step further and looked at the previous 7 years of results where 8 songs competed in each of the 4 heats, but ultimately judged that this data is not relevant to the format of the competition in 2022.

If I can give you one reason to keep reading, it’s that there is only one act that statistically will not qualify to the semifinal or grand final next March. Every other one of the 28 competing entries has a chance at qualifying for the next round – whether that be a semifinal place or a grand final spot.

Now, to the results and projections:

Heat 1 qualifying record – 2015 to 2021

Heat 1Q%FAC/SF

We can clearly see that four performance slots have a qualifying percentage of above 50%. However, one thing that you must note immediately is that even though the song in slot 4 has a 71.43% chance of qualifying, they have never been an automatic finalist – only going through to the newly remodelled semifinal format in 2022.

Acts in spots 6 and 7 have over a 50% chance of qualifying for the final automatically. In fact, if the song in slot 6 qualifies, it has always been an automatic qualifier over the last seven editions of the contest.

It is therefore fair to project that the statistically most likely qualifiers are:

Directly to the Final: #6 Cornelia Jakobs and #7 Robin Bengtsson
For the semifinal round: #1 Malou Prytz and #4 Omar Rudberg

Heat 2 qualifying record – 2015 to 2021

Heat 2Q%FAC/SF

Heat 2 is a little trickier to project, despite there being four performance slots that have a larger than 50% chance of qualification. This is because one of the performance slots tends to produce a qualifier but without certainty for which further stage the song will progress to.

We can see that for Heat 2, slots 1 and 7 produce the most qualifiers, and without fail slot 7 produces a finalist – unless your name is Margaret, the only performer who didn’t progress from the final performance spot in heat 2. The only act who failed to progress from slot 1 to either the semifinal round or the grand final was Klara Hammarström – more on her chances later.

It’s also notable that no act performing fourth or fifth has been an automatic finalist in this heat over the last seven years.

Spots 4, 5 and 6 all have the most likely chance of producing an act that will progress to the semifinal. However, spot 6 is also the third most likely to produce a finalist. It’s for this reason that we must include the act in spot 6 as part of our qualifying projection.

It is therefore fair to project that the statistically most likely qualifiers are:

Directly to the Final: #1 LIAMOO and #7 Tone Sekelius
For the semifinal round: #4 Alvaro Estrella and #6 John Lundvik

Heat 3 qualifying record – 2015 to 2021

Heat 3Q%FAC/SF

Here, we encounter our statistically impossible qualifier. Poor Lancelot. Performing in slot 2 hasn’t ever produced a qualifier over the last seven years. It is thanks to this statistical improbability that we see five performance slots all producing over a 50% chance of qualifying to a further broadcast show.

However, just like in semifinal 2, more than one of these ‘high probability qualifying slots’ hasn’t ever produced an automatic finalist. Spot 3 has produced a semifinalist in 6 out of 7 editions and spot 6 has produced one in 4 out of 7 editions. We can see that spot 5 has produced a qualifier in 4 out of 7 editions but across either an automatic finalist spot (3/7) or a semifinalist spot (1/7).

The act performing first in this semifinal has automatically qualified to the final on 4 out of 7 editions, the second most likely spot to produce a finalist after spot 7 which always produces a qualifier but 5 out of 7 editions this act has automatically qualified.

It is due to the uncertain nature of spot 5 qualifying that we must suggest this is the least likely of our 5 qualifying spots to produce an act to progress.

Based on this analysis, we can therefore project that the statistically most likely qualifiers are:

Directly to the Final: #1 Cazzi Opeia and #7 Anders Bagge
For the semifinal round: #3 Lisa Miskovsky and #6 Linda Bengtzing

Heat 4 qualifying record – 2015 to 2021

Heat 4Q%FAC/SF

For everyone who this morning screamed about Klara Hammström being the favoured queen for 2022… you might want to hold onto your horses just a little bit longer. Yes, she is in a spot that has produced a qualifier on every single occasion. In fact, Loreen is the only act who didn’t qualify automatically from spot 7 in Heat 4 – and the edition in which this occurred also provided our first and only automatic qualifier from spot 1 when Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia progressed.

In addition, only two acts have won the competition from the final spot in heat 4 in the last seven years: John Lundvik in 2019 and Måns Zelmerlöw in 2015, the first edition of the current format. More on that later…

The key takeaway here is that there are only 3 performing positions that guarantee a qualifier: spots 4, 5 and 7. Of those three performing spots, #5 is more likely to produce a semifinalist than #4 which is more likely to produce an automatic finalist. Both positions 4 and 5 have produced qualifiers on 6 out of 7 occasions in this heat.

Whilst spots 3 and 6 have an equal result of producing qualifiers on 3 out of 7 occasions, spot 6 exclusively produces semifinalists, whereas spot 3 has produced an automatic finalist and 2 semifinalists.

It’s also worth pointing out that the act performing second in heat 4 has only qualified through to the semifinal once in seven years, and never produced an automatic finalist

Taking all of this into account, we can therefore project that the statistically most likely qualifiers are:

Directly to the Final: #4 Tenori and #7 Klara Hammarström
For the semifinal round: #5 Medina and #6 Angelino

This is all well and good but… who’s going to win then?

The beauty of modern-day Melodifestivalen is that… it’s almost impossible to say who will ultimately win before we have the 28 songs available to us. It is no longer the case that the song performing last in the last heat is designated as the obvious and definite winner.

Below, you can see a table of winners over the last seven years:

H4.72019, 2015

Only semifinal 2 has failed to provide a winning entry since the format was changed to have only seven songs per heat, instead of eight. Sanna Nielsen, however, did win from spot 6/8 in semifinal 2 in 2014. Robin Stjernberg of course famously won for the first time via Andra chansen, or the new semifinal format, originally performing 3/8 in semifinal 4 in 2013.

The six acts in these previous winning spots this year are Malou Prytz, Robin Bengtsson, Cazzi Opeia, Anders Bagge, Medina and Klara Hammarström – but as I say above, this means almost nothing due to the very limited trends in winning entries across the last 7 years. It is much more important to look at potential qualification data than it is to speculate on a winner from this data set.

Of course, stats mean nothing if the song quality doesn’t match up to the history of Melodifestivalen

One thing is for sure, for the data set to continue being relevant, the song quality must continue to match each year, there or thereabouts. There are no guarantees in any year that the ‘best’ quality songs are evenly distributed across the number of heats either.

This analysis also doesn’t take into account how a producer-led running order such as this tries to create light and shade for each broadcast show – we know production teams like to vary genres, tempo and vocalist demographic from performance to performance where possible. It may well be that this year, the way the running orders have been built actually show off songs in different running slots to usual because of the entries they’re competing against during each show.

However, we can say that with 7 years of data, trends can be identified and highlighted in the way we have today. The facts are performing last in the heat produces a qualifier on 27 out of 28 occasions. There are always anomalies – in this case, Margaret with “Tempo” – but it would be a tremendous surprise if one of this year’s show closers didn’t make it through… however, Klara Hammarström has met that fate before when “Nobody” became the first show opener in heat 2 to not qualify.

Let us know what you think about today’s Melodifestivalen 2022 running order draw, as well as our analysis of the last seven years. Will the trends remain based on the artists drawn into those spots? Do you think we could see some surprise upsets outside of these trends? You can comment below or send us a message @ESCXTRA on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.

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