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Eurovision 2015: Semi-Final 2 – Vienna Preview

Last night’s jury rehearsal cleared away some of the fog, but so much of this semi-final still remains shrouded in mist.

IMG_3513_EVLithuania deliver a vibrant show opener that should stick in the memories of TV viewers. With a decent amount of diaspora to count on, Monika & Vaidas should boost what could be slightly lower ranking from the jury and survive the cull for Saturday’s final.

Molly still looks a bit glum, and despite the song’s authentic composition and presentation, Ireland is a distant memory with ballads from Montenegro, Malta, Norway, Czech Republic, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Poland to follow. Moreover, any kind of “awww, isn’t she nice” votes will be absorbed by John Karayiannis. Given I have Lithuania qualifying from the opening slot, I struggle to add Ireland to my list.

Edit: Someone told me I had forgotten Montenegro, which sort of represents my feelings for Knez’ song. He delivered a solid jury rehearsal last night, but I think problem lies with Montenegro’s likely televote. Last year Sergej qualified from the penultimate slot in the running order, despite coming 12th on the televote with one or two more allies. This year, Knez faces a much stiffer challenge from fourth in the running order with Malta and Norway to follow and a slightly lesser number of allies. I think it could be this semi-final’s 11th or 12th.

San Marino. Need I say more? Chain of Light might encourage anti-voting from some quarters, but we should also expect some alleged prearranged votes from certain other nations. Don’t worry, it won’t be enough to earn qualification, but it might be enough to avoid last place.

Amber next, and on our table, she’s nicknamed something I really shouldn’t repeat. She strikes a lonely figure on the Stadthalle stage and has been prone to screaming one or two shouty, off-key notes. Amber delivered when it mattered last night, so Malta might have enough jury support in the bank. Talking about finances, Malta were saved by a highly suspect douze-point from FYRoM last year. This year’s song is arguably more jury friendly, but only if Amber can hit the notes. The qualification threshold is likely to be around 55-points. Even with alleged skullduggery, Malta will need additional support from neutral nations.

Simplicity is sometimes best. In Norway’s case, this appears to be true. Mørland & Debrah Scarlett deliver solid vocals with believable chemistry. Even though they dropped the successful circling camera concept from their national final, Monster Like Me has evocative enough staging to qualify and push on for top-10.

Portugal should be in contention for last place in this semi-final. Leonor is a confident and charismatic performer, but the song is too inaccessible for non-Portuguese speakers.

Marta & Václav also fail to deliver the big moments their song promised, and with Marta throwing her shoes to the rear of the stage for the second chorus, the Czech Republic’s chances of qualification appear to be dwindling with each rehearsal. Václav also gets too shouty on the final note, which makes the embrace appear unnatural and uncomfortable.

Just like Serbia lifted the mood in semi-final 1, Israel looks set to get the parted started from ninth in the running order. Nadav’s multi-genre song may not delight all of the national juries, but we know Golden Boy will go down a storm in the west, particularly in the UK, Ireland and Nordic nations. Unlike previous Israeli entries, Nadav is likeable and doesn’t sing in Hebrew, which should at least secure extra support.

IMG_7817_EVIn terms of visuals, Latvia is one of only a handful of countries to extract the very best from the Stadthalle stage. The song is rather left-field, but like Belgium on Tuesday, I can see both the juries and televoters ranking Aminata high. Love Injection is a visual triumph that should see Latvia make the final for the first time since Wolves of the Sea.

Azerbaijan, on the other hand, are at risk of suffering their first ever non-qualification. The Caspian Sea bounded nation has zero support in this semi-final, other than from those nations it has allegedly traded with pre-2014. Something tells me they can’t be as blatant as in previous years. Even the Malta douze-points might have to be reigned in! However, there are other nations they could call upon. In my opinion, Elnur is worth taking on at 1.14.

María Ólafs really pulled it together last night, but there’s still a nagging doubt over whether the juries will get behind such a poorly arranged song. Iceland have a couple of allies that gives them a head start, and in this western-leaning semi-final, other countries may serve up some light support. Will it be enough?

It may not come as news to you, but Sweden is qualifying. Måns Zelmerlöw still lacks that winning performance for me, and with only four second-half final slots remaining, Måns might not get the draw he needs and thus fail to be the hero of our time.

As has been discussed in previous articles, and during our fourth podcast, Mélanie René really knows how to sell Time to Shine. The problem for Switzerland is that Time to Shine is a filler song, wedged between the charismatic Scandiedroid, Herr Zelmerlöw, and the mum & grannie catnip, Kýrios Karayiannis.IMG_8040_EV

John Karayiannis’ song may lack the instant hook most fans demand, but One Thing I should Have Done is transformed on the Eurovision stage. With a stunning set of galactic visuals, combined with audience-mobile-phone-lighting, people will fall in love with the Cyprus‘ song and I can see this qualifying comfortably and potentially landing a top-3 finish.

After the understated brilliance of Cyprus, Slovenia comes across as a dull and rather confusing three-minutes to follow. Here for You is great radio hit, but with the headphones and air-violinist dancer, the TV package doesn’t make you want pick up the phone and vote. Like Albania on Tuesday, it’s a bit too beige. Given Slovenia’s lack of allies, they are far too short in the market and worth taking on with some cheap lays.

Our last semi-finalist of the year is Poland. Monika has a great USP, which is emphasised in the VT and from the start of the song. Being wheelchair-bound will attract a stronger sympathy vote than the four disabled punk rockers in semi-final 1. The problem for Poland is Monika’s tendency to drift off-key or sound breathy. Diaspora should get them close, but it’s an outcome that makes me very nervous.

So here are my list of 10 qualifiers:

  1. Lithuania
  2. Malta
  3. Norway
  4. Israel
  5. Latvia
  6. Azerbaijan
  7. Sweden
  8. Cyprus
  9. Slovenia
  10. Poland

This is a dangerous semi-final with too many 50/50 shots that could leave your bank bruised. It’s worth focussing on the jury favourites and taking on those short priced nations like Slovenia and Azerbaijan, just in case there’s a shock. My exposure isn’t as high as semi-final 1 and I’ll continue to play this market with great caution.

In terms of betting potential, Cyprus looks high at 20/1 each-way to 3-places at BetFair Sportsbook. I would recommend Israel, but the 50/1 each-way available earlier this week has gone, having got a few quid on it myself.

SkyBet’s 1.44 on the Czech Republic also looks a reasonable investment, if like me, you think they’re struggling for support. It’s also layable at Betfair.

Switzerland not to qualify is available at 1.53 Boylesports, which is better value than Betfair Exchange at the moment.

Good luck… and please remember to bet responsibly.

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About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Good stuff Gav and I have nine the same as you and have substituted Iceland in for Malta. The dodgy trading my only danger here. Enjoy tonight mate.

  2. Montenegro

  3. My qualifiers are
    1. Lithuania
    2. Montenegro
    3. Malta
    4. Norway
    5. Israel
    6. Latvia
    7. Azerbaijan
    8. Sweden
    9. Cyprus
    10. Slovenia

    In terms of the first half I do think we will get 4 qualifiers and out of those 4 I have only Norway as a lock, while CR,POR,SMR are goners leaving it a fight between MNT,LIT,IRE,MLT If it was down to song quality it would be Montenegro,Ireland would be the clear qualifiers but with so many other factors interms of Diaspora I would say Lithuania are safe but the bad thing is a lot of countries voting in this semi have other big preferences swell, I know as an Irish man that we have a history of giving Lithuania high points but this year Ireland also have Latvia and Poland who are just as likely if not even more likely to get points from tele voters and with the other 2 being more jury friendly it hurts Lithuania somewhat, plus some juries ( including the irish jury) may be aware of there large diaspora and might deliberately mark them down to try and cancel it out ( the UK did this to Ireland and Poland, Ireland did this to Lithuania and Poland last year) and being first could hurt there chances as its not memorable and there is nothing special about it. Malta on the other hand is NOT more jury friendly than Coming Home and if it finishes higher than 7th in the juries then you know Malta did some shopping, I feel its to “In your face” for such an early slot ( kind of like Israel last year) and because of this I’m a bit more shaky on Malta than I was in the run up to the contest, and we saw with Belgium last year that if the song quality isn’t there then juries will mark you down no matter how powerful your voice is so I on the fence with it but just because I’m to nervous on break my 100% prediction streak this year ( 😛 ) Im putting them down as a yes. As for Montenegro and Ireland they as I mentioned before have much better entries and out of the 4 I don’t think any of them will do particularly well in tele voting especially when you consider whats following them so it comes down to juries and in that case if the juries were doing there jobs than Ireland and Montenegro should come out as winners in that battle but I struggle to see Ireland AND Montenegro making the cut so I think 1 will miss out so I would pick ( Objectively) that Montenegro would make it because there is nothing quite like it and his charisma and experience is superior, on Irelands side there song should be more appealing to the western viewers ( and its a very western semi final) and her being 17 should get her some empathy votes as her look make her scream out for more empathy than Nadav or Anita/Michelle do. and when you consider the countries who can vote in this semi I would say Ireland should have around 40 points or so to start with ( Montenegro have more or less 10-12) but its really hard to call but I’m just going to go with Montenegro :P,

    In a new comment ill wright my views on the second half.

  4. Not sure Lithuania are quite as safe as people think Gav. It’s a decent enough opener but the juries may view it as a bit cheap and trashy and cheesy compared to the later duets as well as the likes of Sweden and Latvia.

    If Ireland can’t qualify with a classy ballad and singer like this and especially with juries voting, RTE can throw their hat at it. You would have thought too the presence of UK, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Malta, Latvia, Poland etc would be more than enough to get her over the finishing line.

    For the same reason, I think Montenegro are in huge trouble. Who of the western and northern nations are going to award generous points to a Balkan ballad sung by a middle aged bloke in a language they can’t understand?

    I’m not entirely convinced Cyprus are going to do a Tom Dice. He had a lot of appeal as a talented and good looking young singer / songwriter…..this entry is a little more at risk of wavering into cheesy boyband territory rather than a credible and contemporary effort.

    I do agree that Azerbaijan are at serious risk. It’s a horrible song, uncharismatic singer and the staging looks awful.

  5. On the second half, Like Gav I had Israel down as a no before the contest but watching it last night ( I was in the Stadthalle) I can see that there will be a decent score ( borderline though) in juries and tele votes so It should get Israel through in 7th-10th. Latvia I had down as a likely qualifier when the allocation draw was made ( be4 aminata was picked) because of a second half draw in a semi with lots of friendly votes but once Aminata was picked I had it as a lock to qualify and that has never changed, Im not a fan of the song but I can see its jury appeal and even the public might be into it so its sailing into the final and maybe even a finish on the left hand side of the score board is possible. Azerbaijan could be at risk of being the biggest shock NQ to date in eurovision because like you said Gav they are starting from 0 and with the way the EBU cracked down on the voting last year we saw how friendless they really are and In a semi with a song that to be fair oozed quality with a lot of friends voting still didn’t get through on the tele vote and needed a high jury finish to be saved and this song could be in trouble as there isn’t as many friends and its a bigger semi final and when you consider there distracting staging compared to other ballads with much simpler stagings it could harm there telelvote. But that said the song is stunning so based on song quality it should be top 5 and even with all the factors I’ve mentioned when you must only place top 10 in a semi where there are only 14 countries battling its hard to imagine them NOT qualifying, Iceland….There is no redeemable features what so ever about this entry and like is said about the juries doing there jobs well…if they are than this should be bottom 3 in the jury because the song isn’t there, the performance isn’t there, the vocal isn’t there…I don’t get how a jury can rank this top 10 and being right between 2 much better packages ( Azerbaijan’s distracting staging is like man in a box staging in comparison) and being followed by Sweden then I can’t really see how this will qualify and when you consider the scandi vote you’d surely imagine that vote is going to go to SWE or NOR. Sweden…not going to waste time basically : Qualifying top 3 ( 99 percent sure its winning the semi) and guaranteed top 5 on saturday night. Switzerland great performance but like Moldova in semi 1 I don’t think any performance can save this song, Melenie Rene is REALLY REALLY pretty so she could get some votes on that but not enough to qualify sadly ( for them) Cyprus, there is enough in the performance to just sneak into the final even though I think this is the worst entry in ESC for a long time and be4 the contest I honestly thought it was fighting with Portugal for last in the semi final but now based on reports I must go with my head and admit that its probably going to just about make it even though I don’t think it deserves to. Imo ORF probably agree thats its a boring nothing song and have deliberately put it and Switzerland here in the running order ro make Slovenia and Sweden stand out more. Slovenia I don’t like it and think its very overrated but when you consider the running order and that semis are very big for fan votes I do think it will make it quite comfortably but the staging will stop it doing huge things on saturday, the staging shouldn’t hurt them after all bad staging didn’t stop Belgium and Albania qualifying so they should be safe. Poland…..dire and is totally relying on sympathy and in semi 1 Finland didn’t get the sympathy vote so hopefully Poland don’t either and to be honest even juries are going to find this dull and it being the worst ballad in the semi I seriously don’t think even the pimp slot can save them.

  6. Gav….has there been a bit of a change in tone among the cognoscenti about Norway in the last 24 hours? The prevailing view to early this week was of a classy song dragged down by dull staging and lack of visuals, but from what you are saying, the simplicity and ever more focussed vocals seem to be improving their chances of a decent Top ten, possibly Top 5 finish?? What’s changed? Maybe they are just benefiting from the messy staging of others and less impressive vocals? It certainly stand out in the first 8/9 songs in tonight’s running order.

    • Hi Mark. You make a good point. I think we all expected a new direction, but they have slowly finessed the staging over the last week into something that gets a great reaction from the arena audience. Like AramMP3’s song, it packs a powerful punch during the second half.

      I think top-5 might be a tad ambitious, but top-10 looks a good bet with a decent running order slot.

  7. Lithuania Q
    Ireland NQ
    San Marino NQ
    Montenegro NQ
    Malta NQ
    Norway Q
    Portugal NQ
    Czech Republic Q
    Israel Q
    Latvia Q
    Azerbaijan Q
    Iceland NQ
    Sweden Q
    Switzerland Q
    Cyprus Q
    Slovenia Q
    Poland NQ

  8. I think this one is trickier, I feel quite sure about 7 Qs and 4 NQs but that leaves positions 8-13 up for grabs. It will probably be tight.

    My 10 Qs, “in no particular order”.
    Czech Republic

  9. You forgot Montengro in your review.

  10. Black 'n' Blue15

    Possibly one of the toughest Semi-Finals to predict I’ve come across having followed ESC since 2009.
    Here it goes!

    Definite Qualifiers

    1. Sweden
    2. Norway
    3. Latvia

    Likely remaining Qualifiers

    4. Cyprus
    5. Slovenia
    6. Poland
    7. Azerbaijan
    8. Lithuania
    9. Czech Republic
    10. Montenegro


    11. Switzerland
    12. Israel
    13. Ireland
    14. Portugal
    15. Iceland
    16. San Marino
    17. Malta

  11. Hi everyone!

    YYYYIIIIHHHHAAAA! After the long wait it is finally here: the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest Copenhagen 2014! I think this is a much stronger semi-final in contrast to the first semi-final on Tuesday.

    This is my top 17 of the second semi-final tonight:

    01. Azerbaijan
    02. Montenegro
    03. Sweden
    04. San-Marino
    05. Norway
    06. Malta
    07. Lithuania
    08. Portugal
    09. Czech Republic
    10. Iceland
    11. Slovenia
    12. Switzerland
    13. Cyprus
    14. Ireland
    15. Poland
    16. Israel
    17. Latvia

    I’m very disappointed that I’m not allowed to vote in this semi-final! 🙁

    Of course I hope that my top 10 qualifies, but I think the following 10 countries will qualify for the final (if that has something to do with the quality of the song or anything else is obviously debatable, but I leave that in the middle ;-)):

    01. Azerbaijan
    02. Cyprus
    03. Iceland
    04. Latvia
    05. Lithuania
    06. Malta
    07. Montenegro
    08. Norway
    09. Slovenia
    10. Sweden

    Let’s see how many countries I correctly predict this time. Last year I predicted 7 out of 10 countries correct.

    Lots of luck to all participants! Do your best and enjoy your moment on stage! Winning is always (a little bit) important, but especially to prove yourself. Don’t forget that all of you are actually already a winner because you have won the right to represent your country at the biggest, most acclaimed, most popular music festival in the world! May the best win! And eventually quality always comes floating to the surface, isn’ it?!

    I’d like to wish everyone who will be watching and will be listening all over the world, lots of listening and viewing pleasure tonight! Enjoy the show, the spectacle, the atmosphere, the magic …!

  12. Well, it’s a tough one, but here goes:

    Czech Rep

    Was very hard for me to cut Slovenia from the list, but there you go.

  13. 1. Sweden
    2. Norway
    3. Cyprus
    4. Latvia
    5. Lithuania
    6. Montenegro
    7. Azerbaijan
    8. Slovenia
    9. Israel
    10. Iceland

    I’m fairly certain on 8/10, Israel and Iceland could be replaced by Czech Republic and Poland.
    Others are out imo.

  14. How come whenever Malta gets 12 point it is always accused of dealing for it? It’s not as if Malta gets loads of 12 points each year? In my opinion the last 3 Maltese qualifications to the final were fully deserved.

    • If you’ve come to that conclusion having read the last several year’s points charts, then fair enough. If you haven’t studied the points charts, then I suggest you do so.

      Clear as day.

  15. escgo’s “five bets to consider” for tonight’s show: http://www.escgo.com/2015/05/21/semi-2-five-bets-to-consider/

    • Nice read Martin and at last someone who is calling Ireland as a qualifier….I’m not sure where all the negativity has come from that is placing it in the bottom 3 in the qualification market, as if it’s hopes are slim to non-existent.

  16. 1. Sweden
    2. Norway
    3. Cyprus
    4. Latvia
    5. Azerbaijan
    6. Slovenia
    7. Lithuania
    8. Iceland
    9. Montenegro
    10. Poland

    I think Israel as a country doesn’t get much love from both jury members and televoters, no matter what they are sending, and therefore they can be the surprise NQ.

  17. Does anyone see good bets in this H2H list?


  18. Predictions for easiest semi-final ever. I wish.
    1 Lithuania
    2 Norway
    3 Malta
    4 Latvia
    5 Poland
    6 Azerbaijan
    7 Slovenia
    8 Sweden
    9 Cyprus
    10 Israel
    Wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I only got 5. It’s that hard.

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