Eurovision National Finals 2013

Eurovision 2013 Semi Final Draw Analysed by our good friend Keith Mills

Malmo Town Hall

We are very happy to have a guest writer again with Eurovision Ireland today and it is Mr Eurovision himself – no not Johnny Logan but Keith Mills from “All Kinds Of Everything“. Keith casts his eye over the Eurovision semi final draw that will take place in the Old City Hall in Malmo tomorrow.


The decision by the EBU, to allow the Swedish host broadcaster to determine the running order of the songs in this year’s Eurovision shows means that this year, there is only one draw, which will allocate countries to each semi-final. This allocation draw will take place in Malmo on Thursday January 17th as part of the official hand-over from 2012 host city of Baku to the 2013 hosts.

Following the withdrawals of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal, Slovakia and Turkey and the decision of Poland not to return to the event, only 33 countries will compete in this year’s semi-finals, meaning that only 16 countries will compete in one of the semis, the smallest ever semi-final field. 

As Malmo is geographically close to both Denmark and Norway, it was decided that these countries should not compete in the same semi-final and to balance the number of tickets available for both shows, Denmark has been allocated to the first semi-final and Norway to the second.  

As in previous years, the six countries that are automatically qualified for the final, will also be assigned to one of the semi-finals, which they have to show and are allowed to vote in. This year Sweden as hosts as well as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom automatically progress to the final.  



While we won’t know the exact running order of the semi-finals until March, it is already possible to look towards what would be a good result from the allocation draw and what would be bad news that would make Ireland’s task of qualifying for the fourth year in a row, more difficult.

STEP ONE: Draw the smaller semi-final. It may seem like a small thing, but assuming that ten countries qualify from each semi-final, the countries in the smaller semi have on average a 63% chance of getting through, while those in the bigger semi have only a 59% chance. That minor difference made all the difference to Ireland’s chance in 2009 in Moscow, when we were drawn in the bigger semi-final and just missed out on making he cut.

STEP TWO: Have countries that usually vote for you in the same semi-final. For Ireland, this means one thing above all and that’s having the U.K. voting in our semi-final. Of the other automatic finalists, it would also help to have Sweden and Germany, who have been more generous to Ireland than Spain or France or especially Italy, who didn’t give Jedward a single vote in the last two years.

Of the semi-finalists, it would be good to have Estonia, Denmark, Latvia and Switzerland and perhaps surprisingly Albania in our semi-final as they have given us strong points since the contest expanded in 2004. The countries we want to avoid are Georgia and Macedonia, who haven’t given Ireland a single point in the last nine years.

STEP THREE: Avoid the countries that always qualify. There are five countries in the semi-final draw that have a 100% qualification record. While nothing is guaranteed (as Turkey and Armenia’s failures in 2011 and Georgia’s failure in 2012, demonstrates) these countries already have one foot in the final, so it would be best to avoid them.

  • Azerbaijan
  • Greece
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Ukraine

By contrast there are some countries that have a very poor qualification record, and having these in our semi-final, might help our chances. So bring on the following;

  • Belgium (one qualification in eight attempts)
  • Bulgaria (one qualification in eight attempts)
  • Netherlands (one qualification in nine attempts)
  • Montenegro (no qualification in four attempts)
  • San Marino (no qualification in three attempts)

Finally there are two elements that we won’t know until March. The running order will be key to our chances. It is no coincidence that only 40% of the semi-final  qualifers since 2004 have come from the first half of the draw, while 60% have come from the second. This pattern is repeated year after year. And finally, like all other countries, Ireland will be hoping that whatever song type we choose, that our semi-final will not be full of the same kind of song.  For example, having a ballad in a field of up-tempo songs helps an entry stand out.

Fingers crossed for Thursday!

 Guest Author – Keith Mills


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