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Winners And Losers From Liverpool’s Semi Final Draw Written by on February 1, 2023 | 2 Comments

With the Semi Final Draw for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 complete, which countries have gained an advantage and which are facing a tougher musical challenge? Martin Bishop looks over the numbers for Liverpool.

A Prime Time Surprise

Since the United Kingdom’s second place at Turin 2022 and the BBC’s offer to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 was accepted, the community has had to acclimatise to the country’s new perspective of the Song Contest. It’s incredibly disorientating to see artists appear regularly on television, and the 2023 host city race discussed in granular detail in the media. However, the most bewildering thing is to see the Semi Final allocation draw become prime-time television entertainment.

I’ve been watching the allocation draw for years. I was here when Assi Azar launched a meme at the expense of Cyprus’s second-place finish. I watched Vitali Klitschko struggle with the weight of the ceremonial keyring. I got Portuguese lessons from Filomena Cautela. Never once have I thought “this show needs to be seen by a wider audience“.

We’re Here For The Stats

Now we know which country is in which Semi Final, It’s time for the numbers, and to try and figure out who benefits most from the 2023 draw.

I’ve collated the televoters’ points from Song Contests going back to 2008. For each entry, I’ve compared the points they got from the countries who vote in this year’s Semi Final 1 with the points they got from those voting in Semi Final 2. That gives a percentage difference for every entry. I then come up with an average difference for each country and multiply that by the expected points available in their semi. This gives an estimated number of points that the draw is worth compared to a notional fair draw.

This is the first year in a while that the Semi Finals are to be decided entirely by public vote. I’ve therefore used televote-only data wherever we have it: that means for the Contests in 2008, 2009 and every year since 2016. In theory, the juries were meant to have watered down the effects of neighbour/diaspora voting, so it follows that this year the draw is extra important. That seems to bear out in my results. I ran the same stats using the 50-50 split data and the size of the differences is about 60% higher on the televote-only model.

So let’s look at the results!

Semi Final 1

Eurovision 2023: Semi Final 1 Draw Analysis

Eurovision 2023: Semi Final 1 Draw Analysis

In Semi Final 1, Serbia is the biggest winner. We don’t have very many Balkan countries in 2023, so it was likely to be a case of feast or famine for them. They managed to get Croatia in the Tuesday show and also have their most reliable source of diaspora points in Switzerland.

Portugal has also done well. One might expect them to be dependent on Spain for televoters, but their laid-back, cool, classic approach to Eurovision actually tends to fare much better with the francophone countries, especially France and Switzerland. The draw could help Portuguese broadcaster RTP to its third qualification in a row.

At the other end of the table, the draw has been unkind to some of the contest’s serial non-qualifiers. Latvia is the only Baltic nation in the first Semi Final. Of its regular sources of points, the only one present is Ireland. Then there’s Ireland: No United Kingdom, no Australia, just Malta. Which is scant consolation points-wise.

On the bright side, there are only fifteen countries in this side of the draw. The odds of getting through are better than they’ve ever been, at least from the perspective of drawing names out of a hat.

Semi Final 2

Eurovision 2023: Semi Final 1 Draw Analysis

Eurovision 2023: Semi Final 2 Draw Analysis

Part of the reason for doing these statistics is that it’s a chance to look beyond the obvious when studying the draw. Then I look up the biggest winners overall and they are Greece and Cyprus. There is no more famous pairing in Eurovision point-sharing folklore and they surprise no one by coming top of the list. Greece does a little better as they’re more likely to pick up points from places like Albania and Romania. Both do well with whoever votes in the San Marino televote.

This is a bit more of an Eastern Europe Semi Final, especially with Ukraine’s presence as a non-potted outlier. Armenia and Georgia are the beneficiaries of this and need help with Russia or Belarus no longer being part of the Contest.

The other Eastern European nations have done less well. Romania is without Moldova, and Slovenia is the only ex-Yugoslav nation in the second Semi Final. Others are missing key members of their diaspora. Lithuania has the United Kingdom, but missed out on Ireland and Norway, but do at least have Estonia. Albania has no Switzerland and no Italy. When you consider how very Albanian its song is this year, that could spell trouble.

And The Final Nod Goes To!

We have one more big winner to mention from the Semi Final draw and that’s the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. The BBC team put on a helluva of a show. The draw ceremony was smart, snappy and fun, which is a real challenge when you’re just pulling pieces of paper out from a bowl.

Liverpool 2023 is in safe hands.

About The Author: Martin Bishop

Martin Bishop has been an avid follower of the Eurovision Song Contest since Niamh Kavanagh broke his heart in 1993 and beat Sonia to first place in Millstreet. Nowadays Here he puts his maths degree to good use studying Eurovision's many statistics.

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2 responses to “Winners And Losers From Liverpool’s Semi Final Draw”

  1. Keley Ann says:

    Hmm, why do you apportion all the Serbian points to diaspora and claim Portugal gets high televotes from France & Switzerland because their televoters appreciate their ‘approach’? France and Switzerland both have huge Portuguese diasporas… I suggest you read up on that!

  2. I did not know that. Thanks. I can’t claim to have detailed knowledge of the diasporas of every Eurovision country. By compiling the data I find some countries do better than I’d instinctively think and that’s why I do it.

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