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The ESC Insight Supercomputer Analyses The Semi-Final Draw Written by on January 26, 2015 | 8 Comments

So, here we go again. Its four months to the Eurovision Song Contest, and just five songs available to listen to (maybe it’s six, or seven, depends how you count Albania’s language change and the expected Macedonian and Maltese remixes), everyone is now going to decide who has qualified and who has failed in their quest to make it through to the Saturday night of Eurovision 2015.

The semi-final allocation draw which took place earlier today is a key part of the Song Contest’s organisation. By allocating countries to the top or bottom half of each semi-final, the rehearsal schedules can be completed, the days that a delegation will be required to attend the venue are known, and hotels and flights can start to be booked. If you’re a smaller broadcaster, drawing top half of Semi Final 1 is going to add more nights to your hotel budget than drawing second half of Semi Final 2.

Who See, Igrankan, Montenegro

Montenegro can spend another two nights at home before Semi Final 2.

The exact running order will be determined by the production team and the EBU at a later date, and that will have an impact on the final result (as always, head over to ” for our in-depth thoughts on the matter) and as National Final season continues, the ability to be seen as the favourite can have a huge impact on a song’s performance in May (‘Here’s How Being Called The Favourite Will Help you Win Eurovision‘).

What is clear is that those songs in the bottom half of a semi-final, nearer the end of the running order than the beginning, have a better chance of qualifying. In 2014, 11 countries out of the 20 were in the second half, 2013 also saw 11 second half qualifications, 2012 saw 12, and 2011 saw 11.

Tie that in with the natural diaspora vote of certain countries and the countries that have been drawn together in each Semi Final, and you have a solid body of evidence to start sifting through the possibilities. Yes it does come down to those three minutes live across Europe; yes the pyros, the performance, and the dodgy key changes have an impact; and yes it’s a competition and anything can happen…

…but some things happen more often than others. So here’s our look at the 2015 draw, along with the predictions from the spreadsheets and historical analysis of song performance and voting potential.

Semi Final One

In terms of successful qualifiers, Semi Final One has far more high-scoring countries than Semi Final Two – if you take the average scores of each counter, then the average country score for Tuesday is 126.32, while the countries in Thursday’s show would normally average 94.41 points. That’s boosted by three countries with perfect semi-final qualifying records (Romania, Russia, and Greece, in the first Semi Final, and only Azerbaijan in the second Semi Final).

On previous form, we’d expect eight countries to be considers as qualifiers out of this mix (Romania, Russia, Greece, Armenia, Serbia, Moldova, Denmark, and Hungary). There’s going to be a huge amount of competition over the last two places. Historically you would think Finland would be one of those countries, and even though our spreadsheet says Georiga, their recent form makes us think that our tenth place will come from Georgia, Estonia, Belarus, and The Netherlands. Given the later position in the running order, we’re giving this to Belarus in our first prediction.

Armenia, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Serbia.

Marry Me, by Krista Siegfrids

Still, we know UMK is likely to be a  Krista Siegfrids free zone this year.

Semi Final Two

It’s hard to look past Sweden in this Semi Final not just as the most likely to qualify, but as the most likely winner overall. If you were a betting man, there’s your early value. Azerbaijan was unusually off the boil last year, and while there are some good songs in the Norwegian and Icelandic selections, nothing is grabbing the ESC Insight with a ‘win’ mentality.

Semi Final 2’s countries have a weaker record in terms of qualifying, with only seven of the seventeen countries having a qualification record greater than 50% (it;s 11 from 16 in Semi Final One), so countries such as Malta, Lithiania, and Cyprus could be on for a Saturday night appearance. Ireland rides high, but once you strip out the Jedward effect their averages drop significantly. I know that fans will point to the UK and Malta being available for cultural voting, but I’m not seeing an easy route for Ireland to get the points.

As with every Eurovision Song Contest, the song will play a part, but I think that the countries in Semi Final 2 make this a much harder call, because the performance on the night will have more impact than your average Semi Final.  Assume your strong countries are through (Azerbaijan, Sweden, Norway, Iceland), and you are left with a chasing pack where very one has the potential to qualify.

Still, we’re going to make our prediction, as we always, so:

Azebaijan, Cyprus, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia,

Alcazar (Sweden 2013 Interval Act Melodifestivalen)

Sweden could send any old rubbish and qualify in 2015 (Image: SVT)

Over To The Real World

Of course the live show has a lot to do with the scores, but presuming that everyone has an equal chance on the night is like suggesting Germany and England went to the FIFA World Cup with an equal chance of winning the trophy – which is clearly not the case. There will always be room for the underdog to come though, space for a Lordi to surprise, or for a Wurst to charm the continent. But some countries are just in a better place than others.

What do you think, ready to make a prediction, disagree with our thoughts, or are happy to believe it’s all about the key change? Let us know.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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8 responses to “The ESC Insight Supercomputer Analyses The Semi-Final Draw”

  1. Carola Martin says:

    “Its four months to the Eurovision Song Contest, and just five songs available to listen to…” really?

    1. Macedonia
    2. Malta
    3. Netherlands
    4. Belarus
    5. Albania
    6. Georgia
    7. France

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    Carola, you know and I know Albania is going to get a massive rework, and a change to English, so I’d argue that we’ve not *heard* the Albanian song. You got me on France though, I forget the full three minute copy of ‘Il Faut De Temps’ is out there.

  3. Perusing all of this, I think Estonia has a better shot of qualifying in semi 1 than Finland does. I can’t see where enough points can come from for Finland, and if they select the likes of Siru (who arguably has the best song at UMK, but performs in native language) its gonna struggle for anything beyond some figures from Denmark and Estonia.

    Denmark could probably scrap through just by giving us a MOR inoffensive song that everyone likes enough to throw about 5 points each their way.

    I also don’t think Hungary is as safe as people make it out to be.

    With so many usual qualifiers in the first semi, its gonna be tricky for anyone outside the norm (of the Balkan vote and the former USSR vote) to get the figures unless they have an extraordinary song that captures everyones attention.

    As for second semi, its so all over the place I can’t pick it beyond Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Azerbaijan.

  4. Realist says:

    your saying ireland will not qualify because they only have 2 countries to vote for them, yet portgual and cyrpus have practically none and have worse qualifying records yet they qualify…

  5. Realist says:

    as for your predictions, i have azerbaijan,norway,sweden,iceland,malta as definite qualifiers, i got portugal,czech republic,san marino,montenegro as the non qualifiers and the rest are battling it out for the final 5 spots, P.S idk why you got portugal as a qualifier, imo there the country I’m the most sure will fail to get through, they got at best one allies in switzerland and getting points of them is not guarantee.

  6. Realist says:

    and also looking at the analysis it looks as if ireland got nearly a dream draw besides getting first half. of course we will need to send a good entry to get these votes but overall I’m quite happy with our draw. would like to have avoided italy and azerbaijan but it could have been a lot worse.

  7. Realist says:

    sorry for spamming but i have to mention one other country, latvia, what you make of there chances of qualifying? i actually think they could pip lithuania as they have basically immigrants in the same countries as lithuania, there just never drawn in the same semi so you never notice it.

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