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Eurovision 2017: Semi-Final 1 Preview

Last night’s jury rehearsal cleared the fog for most of us, yet there are still one or two frustrating ambers on my list. I suspect it will be incredibly close at the bottom end of the qualification threshold.

So in no particular order, here are my 10 qualifiers:

  • Armenia
  • Sweden
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • Cyprus
  • Azerbaijan
  • Moldova
  • Poland
  • Finland
  • Slovenia

The semi-final win looks set to revolve around a top-3 of Armenia, Portugal and Sweden. As I mentioned before rehearsals, I do think some of Sweden’s shine will be dulled by Moldova and Greece on the televote, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sweden finish slightly higher with the national juries. The semi win looks like a straight fight between the stylish Armenia and  enchanting Portugal. My own portfolio favours Armenia, but I’ll be happy with either winning.

Seeing all of the performances in running order, it’s remarkable how effective the Moldovan song is. With Greece falling slightly flat, the Sunstroke Project are the only fun act in this semi-final. Moreover, #EpicSaxGuy gets a green room segment during the show, so the producers are keen to make sure Moldova makes the cut for Saturday’s Grand Final.

Even though Greece has disappointed, the vocals were great during last night’s jury rehearsal; and they got to perform twice due to technical issues, thus taking the pimp slot away from Latvia. This is a friendly, diaspora-heavy semi-final for Greece, and with only a few upbeat songs for viewers to group around, Demy should standout enough to make the cut in around 4th-6th place.

Straight after Greece, Kasia Mos grunts the hell out of her dated and cliché Flashlight and could have done enough to push Poland over the line at the cost of one or two better songs. The worry was always whether juries would punish the lazy writing, yet once again, Poland have polished another hefty dollop.

Hovig has come a long way since that wooden, lip-sync performance during the Greek national final. Cyprus‘ balancing-act stage concept did look a bit clunky at first rehearsal. Hovig now looks comfortable on stage and sells the song incredibly well. Based on the jury rehearsal, I see Hovig as a comfortable qualifier.

Despite the esoteric staging concept featuring a bloke on a step ladder wearing a horse’s head, Azerbaijan has tightened up as a visual and vocal package. They’ve even corrected the spelling mistake on their blackboard mini-set! Viewers will still think ‘WTF’, but there’s enough here to suggest that Dihaj makes the final, though it is worth taking cheap lays on Betfair. However, we have to factor in Azerbaijan’s adeptness for allegedly securing jury votes from certain nations.

That’s eight qualifiers and now it becomes trickier to separate the borderliners from the no-hopers. I’ve had to leave Belgium out, as Blanche looks too panicked and lacks the charisma for TV viewers to warm to, even if the jurors do show some sympathy. Furthermore, the song is so uneventful on stage it’s crying out for an experienced, confident performer to compensate for the static camera angles and bland LED backdrop. I’ve heard the “on song alone” argument a few times over the last few weeks, but the staging and performance is so undersold, Belgium would need the juries to mark on backing track alone – and they won’t. Blanche was better at last night’s jury rehearsal, but she still murdered the final chorus, and that segment is shown in the reprise as if to remind jurors of the worst part. The same will happen during tonight’s live show, so Belgium could be a much longer price for qualification given these issues.

Slovenia feels like the real end to this semi-final. The impact of Omar’s song feels very close to Filipa Azevedo’s Há dias assim from 2010, which boasted similar Disney characteristics and multiple, climatic key changes. The 9/1 qualification advertised last week was a gift and the circa 4/1 is still too high given the chance of a shock.

That leaves a choice between Finland’s Norma John and Australia’s Isaiah Firebrace. Bold, I know. Both songs have their failings with Australia lacking a call to action moment for televoters and Finland being about 20-years past its sell-by date. Finland’s strength is its ability to elicit an emotional reaction and Blackbird is the sort of song people believe should do well at Eurovision. Don’t Come Easy, on the other hand, is a competent radio song that rather falls flat on the Eurovision stage. Isaiah struggles to emote and the turntable staging with messianic backdrop images of Isaiah lacks cohesion. Also, Australia doesn’t boast any regional allies and will be reliant on their expat communities in Italy and the UK, as well as name recognition in Sweden. Finland boasts a solid expat population in Sweden, in addition to populations of 10,000+ in the UK, Norway and Australia. I also believe Blackbird will travel better than Don’t Come Easy in eastern nations. Having said that, lead singer Leena, did sound a bit rough in today’s rehearsal, so these two are interchangeable depending how they perform tonight.

Enjoy tonight’s show and good luck with your bets. If you haven’t had a bet yet, you can sign up for new accounts and receive free bets here.

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. My 10 qualifiers for tonight.


  2. Thanks Gav. I am not playing with much money and I’m still at that great stage where I am using free bets. I’ve got bets on Armenia, Sweden or Portugal to win. So I’d fall of my chair if I didn’t get a small return there. I took your advice the other day on Slovenia qualifying.

    I agree with nearly all of your analysis. I do think Azerbaijan could be in trouble, and I imagine they will be placed 9th-11th. I also disagree completely with Finland – I think they will be top 6 in the jury and at least top 10 in the televote. I think I agree with your list overall, I’ve not got my own as I’ve not needed to have one given that I’m not playing with much money. I’m just excited for tonight.

    Once again, thanks for your repeated excellent analysis.

  3. Ok guys i am going to risk it and predict the qualifiers in random order:

    1) Sweden
    2) Australia, i love the song and his vocals are nice but the staging is atrocious, he might be at risk.
    3) Finland
    4) Portugal
    5) Greece
    6) Moldova
    8) Will risk it and say Belgium, but on 9th or 10th place.
    9) Poland thanks to their huge diaspora, and i dont agree with you that the song is that bad.
    10) will risk it and say one of my favourite songs, which is Slovenia. The problem with this song is that it isnt very strong in both televoting and juries. I believe the juries might kill the song.

    So yes a NO for azerbaijan, most of the casual televoters will think wtf is this, the staging is really strange.

    Oh i am 101% sure that they will announce portugal as the 10th qualifier, being on the 10th parcel, to increase the interest of the people.

  4. I’ve dutched Armenia/Portugal for the win and have Omar at decent odds to qualify. I also thought it prudent to back Greece for the win and top 3 with modest stakes as you can never discount the power of their diaspora. i’ve discounted Sweden because of the running order.


    shock NQ – Australia

  5. Sweden

    For some reason I’ve never warmed to the Australia song and I would on a personal level swap them with Slovenia which has really grown on me, but I just think the juries will save them. Bar them and Cyprus I’m not really bothered about losing the other 6.

  6. My 10 to Q:


    Main bet is Cyprus Q, with a smaller Australia NQ. I think the former is severly underrated – an appealing jury and televote package with very few weaknesses, and the latter overrated and in need of some kind jury scoring to see it through to Saturday. Good luck all!

  7. Only qualifiers ;-)? Come, let’s rank our qualifiers too. As I have posted here yesterday….
    https://songfestivalwerk.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/ontbijt-terugblik-%e2%96%a0-voorspellingen-1e-2e-halve-finale/ ….

    …..this would be My TOP 10 list of qualifiers:
    01. SWEDEN (I think the first time since 1984 that a country wins from 1st starting grid)
    02. ARMENIA
    03. FINLAND
    05. PORTUGAL
    06. MOLDOVA
    08. CYPRUS
    09. GREECE
    10. SLOVENIA

    Just out: Belgium, Iceland and Poland. Belgium could go through unexpectedly, because the actual ‘dull staging’ and supposed lack of charisma with Blanche, could be perceived as endearing and cute. It’s part of Blanche’s act, so all the negativities could actually become enough of an asset to qualify.

    Iceland I think is underestimated. People find Svala too agressive. I’ve heard that many times now. But I don’t see much difference between the style of Dihaj and Svala. Both bring very contemporary songs to the contest (Why is Robyn’s discography never mentioned with regard to Svala?). Her ‘weird’ dancing and facial gestures to me come across as an ‘Euphoria Light’. If a shocker qualifies, then Iceland.

    Lastly Poland. Decently song, but utterly forgettable song. And to be honest, I do think the Polish diaspora is a bit exaggerated at times. I mean, then that same Polish diaspora brought Poland last place in the semi final of 2011, or even a very meager 18th place with 10 points. Still…Poland could be an ‘accident qualifier’.

  8. I agree with many of the commenters so far. Belgium to qualify on the basis that the book matches the cover: she’s a shy / introvert performer and her song is what it is – dark and shy with a string consistent melody.

    I disagree with Gavster on failing to see the underdog potential and beauty of Belgium.

    Good luck everyone!

  9. Really surprised that no-one fancies Latvia, even in the pimp slot? One of the few uptempo numbers and something different. I get a feeling it could sneak the 10th spot even if the vocals are slightly dodgy?

  10. ….and if it’s a 5/5 split I think Finland could be in trouble

  11. Final 10 (ish)

    Finland or Belgium

    Latvia or Poland or Slovenai

    Have money on Armenia and Portugal for win, Slovenia to qualify, Iceland for last place. Hard to be confident on this one as only see Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Czech Rep as total no hopers

  12. My prediction for this tricky semi:

    – Armenia
    – Sweden
    – Portugal
    – Greece
    – Azerbaijan
    – Finland
    – Cyprus
    – Moldova
    – Australia
    – Poland

  13. My prediction for the 10 qualifiers tonight:

  14. My bets on this Armenia to win and sold a bit to buy cover on Portugal,


  15. Great coverage until now, Gav, many thanks for all the comments and tweets until now 🙂 Keep it up!

    My 10 qualifiers look like this


    We’ll probably see Belgium through, but I always like to oppose an artist like Blanche, who could collapse entirely if she hits a bum note. Moreover, the odds were value to lay her qualification.

    On the other hand, I think Portugal got a great score in the jury vote last night. We’ve seen it already with Robin in Melodifestivalen and the odds were slashed in half from yesterday evening to this hour. I don’t suggest insider trading or anything, but this movement makes me believe that he won the jury vote on Monday. Is he able to build up a solid televote? Probably not, but with a proper place in the final, Salvador may be able to challenge for the win.

  16. My 10 qualifiers:


    My sole bet: Latvia to qualify at 2.5. It’s the pimp slot, it’s colourful and exciting and it’s a cohesive package. If Eldrine can get to mid-table in the final I don’t see why this can’t at least qualify.

    Finland’s a shoe-in and I think Australia’s a bit too good to not qualify but I can see it coming bottom 10 on Saturday – “easily”. Sweden is, I think overrated and I can see Greece, Finland and possibly Cyprus all beating them.

    I’m letting Belgium through because it’s still a good song and I think televoters will award Blanche a “aw bless, she’s nervous” vote as they did Austria’s Zoe last year. If she fails, we’ll all know why, and this opens the door only to Poland or Azerbaijan for me.

    Azerbaijan is my shock non-qualifier. This entry is a change of direction for them and they came perilously close to not qualifying in 2014. The song isn’t that catchy, Dihaj looks like she could be cast in The Fifth Element, and the staging is what it is. If it gets through I totally understand why, but somebody had to get the chop.

    Slovenia’s out for me. Omar might have the pipes but he looks like a crack dealer and sings it with all the facial emotion of a Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace. I can see Georgia maybe sneaking through, but it’s tricky to make a case for all of the first three getting through. I hope Poland don’t sneak through, they really don’t deserve it this year. Shame about Iceland too, but the whole package seems very underwhelming there. Albania’s too dour, the Czech Rep is nice but out of its depth, and Montenegro is just downright shite. Last place for him I reckon.

    Enjoy tonight guys!

  17. Predictions.
    Armenia semi winner and my Main bet.
    10 Qualifiers
    1 Sweden
    2 Australia
    3 Belgium
    4 Finland
    5 Azerbaijan
    6 Portugal
    7 Greece
    8 Moldova
    9 Cyprus
    10 Armenia

  18. Belgium made for uncomfortable viewing…

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