We learnt a lot about Eurovision this week. We learnt the slogan and logo. On Tuesday we learnt what the stage would look like. We learnt that even Vitali Klitschko thinks the massive set of ceremonial Eurovision keys is too heavy. We learnt how to pronounce Tako Gachechiladze and that even fellow Eastern Europeans take great joy in being able to say it. We learnt that among certain Eastern Europeans, the mention of the name “Russia” has a delicious ability to bring an extended awkward silence to even the brightest of host broadcaster chit chat. We learnt that Ruslana has quite a laid back fashion sense when it comes to formal bureaucratic events. Most importantly, though, we learnt who is going to be in which semi final at this year’s Eurovision.
I love my semi final draws. It means I get to break out my massive, incredibly convoluted and multi-tabbed spreadsheet that deciphers the results and tells me who has been given an advantage by the way the little slips of paper fell. Like the keys in the formal mayoral handover, every year I find an extra nuance that I can add to my formulas, creating a progressively larger and more complicated piece of work.
This year I’ve had the headache of adapting my spreadsheets to cope with the new scoring system (the source data is not in a handy format any more!). It does make 2016’s data more useful as there are a wider range of scores that the combined televotes and juries can give out, to more different countries. I get a more detailed picture from now on. In terms of the numbers, though, the only effect is that the final figure is multiplied by two.
As in past years, I’ve collated the results from Eurovisions going back to 2008 and for each year I’ve compared how many points each country received from those voting in this year’s semi 1 with those voting in semi 2. I then average the differences between the yearly scores and multiply them by the expected number of points in their semi (i.e. total number of points available divided by number of countries). This gives me an estimate of how many extra points the draw could be worth.
My study looks into how many points each country would normally get from their semi-mates compared to the countries on the other side of the draw. It doesn’t take any account of how successful a country normally is or what sort of competition they may have from those they’ve been grouped with.
I’ve rattled on long enough now, like a local mayor with a speech to give. So here’s a graph.
Part of the idea of doing this work is to look beyond the over-simplistic “Oh Greece and Cyprus are together, so they have a great draw” logic. So having done all the hard work, I can now tell you that Greece and Cyprus together have the best draw in semi 1. It doesn’t always happen that way, I promise. Among others, they have the extra bonus of the UK voting in their semi. Portugal have also done quite well out of the draw. They have the likes of Spain, Sweden, Belgium and Slovenia at hand, who are all frequent point-givers.
At the other end of the graph, Sweden have come out worst. Their Scandinavian friends are over in the other semi. They do at least have Finland as a Nordic to keep them company as the most wronged by the draw. Norma John is also in the first half of semi 1, so may have her work cut out to qualify. I suspect Sweden may be fine though.
Georgia have also had a bad draw, and are in negative territory with their pot-mates Azerbaijan and Armenia. Ukraine being the host and therefore not separated into a pot, has harmed them somewhat. UK vote in this semi, so Georgia must regret not sending another indie rock anthem to Kyiv. We may not get Richard Osman appearing at their next national final.
At one end of semi 2, Denmark and Norway pick up all the votes that Sweden have missed out on, or some of them. There aren’t many big winners in this semi. There are a lot of countries getting small advantages. The big story in this semi is at the other end.
Romania is this year’s biggest loser. Their most reliable points-givers – not just Moldova, but Slovenia, Cyprus and Poland as well – are all in semi 1. This could be a test of their perfect qualification record. Welcome back.
Challenging Romania for most disadvantaged from this draw is poor little San Marino. The results from my study are quite remarkable. Every single country that voted for Complice, The Social Network Song, Chain of Lights or Maybe (in the final) is in the other semi. There’s only one Sanmarinese artist that got more votes from semi 2 countries than semi 1. There’s nothing for it; San Marino are going to have to turn to daddy Serhat.