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Eurovision 2016: Semi-Final Running Orders Published

SVT have just published this year’s producer-decided running orders for the semi-finals.

Semi-Final 1

  1. Finland
  2. Greece
  3. Moldova
  4. Hungary
  5. Croatia
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Armenia
  8. San Marino
  9. Russia
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Cyprus
  12. Austria
  13. Estonia
  14. Azerbaijan
  15. Montenegro
  16. Iceland
  17. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  18. Malta

Semi-Final 2

  1. Latvia
  2. Poland
  3. Switzerland
  4. Israel
  5. Belarus
  6. Serbia
  7. Ireland
  8. FYR Macedonia
  9. Lithuania
  10. Australia
  11. Slovenia
  12. Romania
  13. Bulgaria
  14. Denmark
  15. Ukraine
  16. Norway
  17. Georgia
  18. Albania
  19. Belgium

We’ll have some analysis published in the next few days, in addition to our first Eurovision 2016 podcast later next week.

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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. What on earth are the Czech’s doing in 10th? If they do not qualify it will be because of this and only this. I still think they will but this certainly makes it a lot harder. When you look at the entries after it such as perennial qualifiers Azerbaijan and that hopeless effort by Montenegro it you really question the logic.
    In general the draw hasn’t helped struggling countries at all.
    A quick look at the draw says it has made it harder to predict the qualifiers- particularly in semi 2 with some pretty weak songs towards the end and countries that should have been safe – namely Bulgaria being made borderline again, if we accept the rules of how many qualify from each half and the last six etc.

    Another little gripe but why wait weeks to release the draw and then reveal it at 8.00 am CET? It’s helped me spot some value in the qualification market at least.

    • Not saying you’re wrong, but I’m curious to hear how you feel this is a bad draw for Bulgaria. Obviously something later would have been better, but at the moment they’re sandwiched between two weaker entries and the closest other general pop song is three songs away in either direction. Comparatively, it seems they’ll stand out despite not getting the pimp slot. Or am I missing something here? I admit I’m a little vague on what the specific rules are for each half and last six.

      • There are certain trends with how many countries can qualify from where. There’s always been a maximum of five from the first half – and I expect no less than five this year. Then there’s always been at least 4 from the last six- probably Norway, Ukraine, Belgium and maybe Georgia who have a pretty strong niche.

        If we do accept this rule that leaves just one more country to qualify from the second half.

        I’m not saying Bulgaria won’t be that country but it also doesn’t help that the most similar entry to it who it will be fighting with for votes is probably Belgium who are on last. I just think it is more of an advantage to be on later than surrounded by poor songs.

  2. Surprisingly instead of help countries with the running order they have actually tried to make the best show possible (Although I feel they are trying to stop Poland and Greece qualifying and they are likely to succeed with the latter). I’m very happy that Latvia are opening the 2nd semi as I seemed to be the only fan who thought Latvia would be the perfect opener, however what worries me is they are so far now following a similar path to Aram MP3 as in a sort of left field song as far as ESC goes and ironically they both opened there semi. Despite all that I can’t see anyone else winning the 2nd semi (heard someone so where saying the semi was Ukraine’s to lose, I laughed at this!)

  3. Looking at semi final 1……….Does anyone thing that grids #3 until #6 create a bit of a lackluster string of mid-tempo entries, of which each one of them have several disadvantages?

    #3: MOLDOVA: Obviously a no-hoper
    #4: HUNGARY: I think the staging of this pop song with raw rock vocals is a bit ‘by the nr’s’ and not special enough. The lead singer is handsome, but not the best charismatic singer (interaction with camera)
    #5 CROATIA: Good song…but perhaps a bit flat. Nina’s lack of charisma could be a disadvantage. It’s nice to have a folk-song, but it’s no ‘Nocturne’, ‘Leijla’ or ‘The Voice’.
    #6 THE NETHERLANDS: Everyone is raving about this entry being a wonderful dark horse. But let’s face it, Hans Pannecoucke didn’t manage to bring ‘Walk Along’ alive on stage.

    Then after these entries, suddenly the ‘thunder storm’ of ARMENIA comes in, followed by ‘weirdo’ SAN MARINO and contender RUSSIA. The last three songs of the first half create a bit more variation and has more entertaining value to look at.

    So could all these four entries, MOLDOVA, HUNGARY, CROATIA and THE NETHERLANDS, be potential non-qualifiers? What do you think Gavster?

  4. I can’t decide if Greece is completely doomed appearing 2nd or if it’s good for them performing between Finland and Moldova because their song is different. Are we looking at the first certain Greek non-qualification or they will piss all over Europe again and qualify with a mediocre song?

    • The way to look at it is, does the second slot signal SVT wants them out of the way in the final? I would say yes.

    • First of all, I do not agree that my country did not deserve to qualify last years. Yes we may had mediocre songs as you say but still good enough to be in the final as the rest were not that better. Regarding this year, with such a draw I believe that Greece has clearly no chance keeping their 100% qualification. Only staging can save it but I believe it is not going to be that good. On the other hand, Iceland chances are even higher and I think I will back Greta’s song. For me first semi: standards for the final are Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cyprus, Malta, Crotia, Hungary and I see Holland, Iceland, Austria and Estonia battle for one of the three remaining places.

    • Statistically speaking, 2nd spot has one of the best qualification rates in the first half.

      First half qualification ratio:

      #6 = 68.75%
      #2 and #7 = 56.25%
      #1, #8 and #9 = 50%
      #4 and #5 = 37.5%
      #3 = 31.25%

      • What years have you used?

          • Thanks, it’s good to post such links to check out.

            According to that in SF2:
            9 have a greater than 50% chance of qualifying;
            3 have a 50% chance of qualifying;
            And 4 have a less than 50% chance of qualifying.

            Sounds odd, without looking into it.

            I still think 2 is the coffin slot and I think ESC believe that too.

          • The changes of qualifying are obviously lower than these percentages tell you, since there are more contestants in this years semi finals compared to previous years.

            The odds of singing 2nd will only get worse in the future, since no producer will put any of the favorites to sing in that position. Still I feel that Poland might still qualify from this spot. Greece is doomed.

  5. I agree with Songfestivalwerk in that Moldova,Hungary,Croatia and The Netherlands could all struggle.Greece should be dead in the water.Iv backed Armenia to win the semi already before the running order and im very pleased with the position.SVT know it will overshadow anyone that follows it and San Marino are the sacrifice.Russia has one of the most authentic songs this year following it and should contrast its terrible chorus to the viewers.
    I dont think Bosnia are 100% out of it from that slot.I had them the biggest gainers in the semi on my figures from the votes changes,though including the rapper probably slices off the gains a lot.Il avoid them until rehearsals though.

    Semi 2 makes my head hurt.Are SVT helping Belgium into the final?.Following Albania is a good position.

  6. The Czech position in the running only adds further mystery in my opinion. I know the official line is for the running order “to make every song stand out” and it does do that, but I’m also throwing in some assumption of SVT bookending most good performances with a less good one. In this case I think it’s more about going from over the top Russia to something simple from the Czechs, but how simple exactly? It will be a let down if she’s just going to stand and sing in front of a generic backdrop. I want something more from this.

    Ireland look like they might be in danger… and I wouldn’t rule out Belarus if they’re going to turn themselves into a GIFable novelty of being “naked” with a “wolf”. Something tells me they’re going to find a way to pull this off without upsetting the rules.

    Also as Daniel said on Sofabet, the “4 of the last 6 qualify” rule is going to be severely tested in the second semi. But don’t we also tend to get “1 of the first 3”? Who will that be in the first semi? Or is it “no more than 1 of the first 3”?

    • I think Czech Republic won’t have any problems to qualify. It’s a high-quality ballad. And together with Serbia one of the most pure ballads in the contest.

      Having said all this, I do think that SVT made the 1st half of the 1st semi-final a rather flat affair, regardless of the quality of the songs. Either Russia or Armenia should have been given an earlier slot, between #1 and #4. That’s not only fair, it would have resulted in a better variation of genres/song-types.

      The 2nd half in comparison has a more ‘vivid’ feeling. Even when you include Russia (and Armenia), the running order from grid #7 until the very end is the most interesting part of the show.

      Looking at the running order now I think these are the qualifiers:
      –> Armenia (CERTAIN)
      –> Russia (CERTAIN)
      –> Czech Republic (CERTAIN)
      –> Cyprus (CERTAIN)
      –> Austria (BORDERLINE)
      –> Estonia (RATHER CERTAIN)
      –> Azerbaijan (RATHER CERTAIN)
      –> Iceland (RATHER CERTAIN)
      –> Bosnia-Herzegovina (BORDERLINE)
      –> Malta (CERTAIN)

      The ‘BORDERLINE’ qualifiers edge out countries like. I still think they are in contention. But I also think these countries will struggle to gain a maximum of 75 points (on and above 150 points in the new system):
      –> Croatia
      –> Hungary
      –> Netherlands

  7. Ok, I think I’ve just about managed to come up with 9/10 from both semis with the running order. Before today I could only manage 7/10 in SF2. Goes without saying all these predictions are subject to rehearsals.

    Finland – X
    Greece – X
    Moldova – X
    Hungary – Q
    Croatia – Q
    Netherlands – Q
    Armenia – Q
    San Marino – X
    Russia – Q
    Czech Republic – Q
    Cyprus – Q
    Austria – X
    Estonia – ?
    Azerbaijan – ?
    Montenegro – X
    Iceland – Q
    Bosnia-Herz – ?
    Malta – Q

    2 of the last 6 going through there plus ONE more of Estonia, Azerbaijan or Bosnia. I’d say Estonia but Azerbaijan’s song is stronger despite poor vocals, and Bosnia is Bosnia, with the latest draw too.

    If it had to be 4 of the last 6 through I find it very hard to eliminate one country earlier to make room for TWO of B&H/Est/Azer, but with gun to my head I’d say Hungary or Cyprus out. Croatia and Netherlands are both too good to not qualify and the rest have an iron grip on qualification IMO.

    Latvia – Q
    Poland – X
    Switzerland – X
    Israel – Q
    Belarus – ?
    Serbia – Q
    Ireland – ?
    Macedonia – Q
    Lithuania – Q
    Australia – Q
    Slovenia – X
    Romania – ?
    Bulgaria – Q
    Denmark – X
    Ukraine – Q
    Norway – Q
    Georgia – X
    Albania – X
    Belgium – ?

    Again, 2 of the last 6 I have marked as qualifiers. It’s going to be very hard to justifiably put 4 of them through. It’s hard to write off Denmark but last year shows they aren’t bulletproof and their entry this year is no less meh than last year’s.

    Belarus I have as a maybe just in case they find a way to get their naked with wolves concept on stage without upsetting the rules and make televote magnetising fools of themselves. Loincloth and furries anyone? Without a novelty factor they’re gone, so they’re nothing more than a potential spanner in the works at the moment.

    Ireland should qualify on paper since Nicky is a big name, but he is looking starkly weak in the line up knowing the quality of his live performances so far. Romania is a big head-scratcher because they are also defending a flawless qualification record with a visually very dodgy but vocally sound entry while also appearing before the final 6. If they would switch slots with Denmark it would be easier to call.

    I had Norway as a maybe before the running order due to the jarring nature of the arrangement but that draw should see it through. Georgia is a reluctant write-off for me because I would like for them to qualify, but then again I’d also like for them to have sent Weagree instead. I think Belgium can qualify because it’s going to make a lot of people smile in the pimp slot, but it’s down as a maybe, because it’s not “good” by traditional ESC thinking and because we’ve seen Serbia miss out in 2013 from the same slot.

    Can’t see Kaliopi missing out, and Poland is 90’s and insipid with a weird looking performer, cons which I think will outweigh the good vocals. The rest should be safe.

    I’m cautiously optimistic for Belgium, but that means one of Romania or Ireland goes, and if Denmark qualify as well to make 4 of last 6, (they shouldn’t,) both Romania and Ireland go, so it’s tough. In any case, I don’t think 4 of the last 6 can justifiably qualify this time.

    • Israel and Macedonia qualify :D, What people don’t realise about Macedonia is the song is dreadful and I highly doubt it will be able to score outside the Balkan’s. Israel are simply friendless and the song isn’t strong enough to qualify from 4th.

      • Cathal, you only have to look back to 2012 to see what a big deal Kaliopi is, she was getting 8s and 10s from the neighbours even though she was contesting with Zeljko Joksimovic, with a similarly drab song. To end up mid-table means she did score outside of the Balkans. She lifted it beyond expectation with her live performance. Macedonia won’t have any trouble this year, the song is no worse than Crno i Belo.

        The only thing which might put people off about Israel is Hovi’s look, which I don’t think fits the song at all. Nothing wrong with the song itself, it’s nicely arranged, far better than the national final version and has an effective climax provided by percussion which is a refreshing change from key changes, and Hovi is a good singer. I think the song alone secures qualification, where others have something to prove or matters to clear up.

        • The difference is Crno i Belo is a typical Kaliopi song that appealed to FYROM’s neighbours. this song she has is just drab tbh and people seem to forget she only came 9th in the semi with a lot of friends voting. I still think she is in with a decent shout of making the final but she for me at least is borderline at best but she sort of needs other countries in her half to mess up in order to qualify. One big issue is that Serbia is far superior and is likely to hoover up all the Balkan votes leaving Kaliopi trying to pick up whats left. I have roughly 6 songs that are borderline and this is one of them. If you put a gun to my head I would probably say yes just about but this is a 8-10 thing, not a 7-4 etc.

          Hovi’s look is an issue in this contest, I’m not saying he’s ugly or anything but its just a little bit weird ( no offence intended but I can’t think of a nicer way of putting it) but, Hovi at the same time is the big + this song has. He is a splendid singer and defiantly won’t be losing points on that front and he looks like a confident guy who knows what he has to do so based on that I think Israel can be confident in him. The big issue Israel has is the song is shite, all they have done is made it easier on the ear but in doing so have stripped the song of any charm/personality it had that would have convinced a huge number of voters at home to vote for it. Add all that to Israel’s non-existent natural tele vote and an early draw and I seriously don’t see how it will get enough votes to qualify. In this semi what you need to look for is countries that are venerable and Israel are one of the most venerable songs here. I currently have it ranked 7th to qualify in this first half alone to qualify and with a lot of luck we will only get 6 in the first half so based on that I struggle to add them to my list. I wouldn’t completely rule it out but it will need a lot of luck in order to sneak through.

  8. I’m on the same page as Durham and Songfestivalwerk regarding the Czechs. I think SVT placing them 10th demonstrates their confidence in the song to qualify. Gabriela vocally can knock this one out of the park, and if her team can create an effective live package for TV, I wouldn’t rule her out from topping the jury vote.

    As for the rest of SF1, Greece might be in trouble, but I wouldn’t call them doomed. We haven’t seen them live yet and out of the opening three countries, I’d reckon they’d be best placed to advance. Instead I could easily see Croatia being a shock non-qualifier. Four of the next five proceeding entries currently make a stronger case for qualification than Croatia, although until rehearsals I’m open to overturning that viewpoint.

    Latvia performing first will be great for the show, and they will qualify, but it may end up giving us a different semi final winner than previously expected. The Swiss and Poland are definitely being thrown under the bus. Australia going out last in the first half doesn’t surprise, but again it’s a confidence thing. SVT know Latvia have the legs to qualify from anywhere, whereas Australia don’t.

    Belgium last? hmm…I’m a bit blank-faced by that one. However, Bjorkmann was on the judging panel for the Belgian selection so maybe some kind of deal was struck (There’s a conspiracy for you!). I had them as borderliners until now, so perhaps they will qualify after all.

  9. They’ve set Russia up to win its semi, therefore get a great slot in the final, therefore win the whole thing.

    They’ve given the death slots to Greece and Poland. Greece because it’s rubbish that doesn’t deserve its diaspora qualifying it. Poland because the Poles rejected a modern song that would have been good for the contest, not to mention winning.

    I feel sorry for Czech but Iceland and Malta are also minnows that have made an effort this year and deserve to be rewarded (they’re not strong enough to qualify with ease). I think they see Latvia as strong enough to qualify easily and they make a good opening.

  10. Just having read the comments on Czech R., I don’t think Q is a sure thing. It’s one of my personal favourites this year but the first listen passed right over me, I didn’t think anything of it, didn’t remember it. It was only when I accidentally heard it for the second time that I appreciated it, ie it’s not immediate enough.

  11. I think what this draw mean’s from an Irish perspective is that Nicky will need to improve significantly in his vocal performance if wants to stand out, and if he does I feel he can standout as he completely contrast’s to Serbia and Macedonia but at the same time if he doesn’t improve he is really struggling as Serbia and Macedonia posses probably 2 of the top 5 vocalists of the year. I can’t call our chance’s until rehearsals as its the only way to judge his vocal properly but with what I hear is a really good team behind staging etc I’m cautiously optimistic ( however do they know how to stage a song in ESC which is completely different to staging a concert etc…time will tell)

    Surprised noone has mentioned how bad a drawn in my view Lithuania got, The performance vocals ( which where good enough to be fair) aside its a mess ( so far ) and the fact its been put next to Australia ( who the EBU clearly want to do well ) indicates to me that Lithuania’s performance hasn’t improved much and is being used as filler for Australia. The main issue is Lithuania had just over a week after there NF to submit there plan’s for Eurovision in terms of staging meaning they had 7-10 day’s to sort out all the choreography that they had during the NF which doesn’t seem likely to be fair, plus I don’t think the song is good for your average non-english speaking listener.

  12. I always go with the idea that if the running order is enough to help an act qualify, it’s an act that’s going to be a marginal qualifier at best. If the Czech Republic isn’t strong enough to qualify following Russia, I’d say it probably wouldn’t well regardless of where it performed.

    Another thing to keep in mind: SVT and the EBU know a lot about something we know very little about: the staging. Russia’s position makes me think there’s some sort of amazing show-stopping staging happening, the sort of star act that any decent producer would be crazy to waste early in the line-up.

  13. does anyone know where there is a full winners market for SF winners? i checked oddschecker and only a few of the countries sem to have ben priced.

  14. A few WTF details in the order, but very predictable overall.
    Norway to finish last in semi 2 at 7, you’re welcome.

  15. One important question I have is, at what point do the breaks take place? on ESCinsight Ben Robertson wrote an article and said the first break is between Netherlands and Armenia in semi 1, Serbia and Ireland in semi 2 (between song 6 and song 7). If I had to take a guess Id say the second break is around song 16 or so (essentially next to a Nordic country in both semi’s but that is just a guess on my part).

  16. Croatia song Lighthouse is very similar with song Uncover by Zara Larsson.

  17. Subject to change here’s what I think the Semi Final outcomes will be:


    Finland NQ
    Greece Q
    Moldova NQ
    Hungary MQ
    Croatia Q
    Netherlands Q
    Armenia Q
    San Marino NQ
    Russia Q
    Czech Republic Q
    Cyprus NQ
    Austria NQ
    Estonia Q
    Azerbaijan Q
    Montenegro NQ
    Iceland Q
    Bosnia Herzegovina NQ
    Malta Q

    I’m confident with seven of these qualifiers. Greece is one I’ve flip-flopped on so far. I do believe this entry is tailored more so for the live stage than the studio. They’ve got this ethnic Pontian dance lined up, so the performance could be memorable. B&H will have to ‘out ethno’ this one to qualify IMO. I’m not 100% comfortable on Estonia either, it’s too dark and creepy in it’s current presentation. I’m looking to Armenia or Russia to come out on top.


    Latvia Q
    Poland Q
    Switzerland NQ
    Israel NQ
    Belarus NQ
    Serbia Q
    F.Y.R Macedonia Q
    Lithuania Q
    Australia Q
    Slovenia NQ
    Romania NQ
    Bulgaria Q
    Denmark NQ
    Ukraine Q
    Norway Q
    Georgia NQ
    Albania NQ
    Belgium Q

    I’m seeing six definite qualifiers here. Ireland being the filler of a Balkan ballad sandwich is possibly the nail in the coffin for a rather monotonous number to begin with. Romania have sent a lot better than this and their diaspora loyalty will be stretched. Belgium have enough over Georgia and Albania to make it. As for a winner I reckon Latvia and Serbia are squaring off.

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