The winners and the losers of the running order draw

Earlier today, the EBU has published the running order for both semi finals of Eurovision 2018. Even though we all know very well that the thing that matters the most, which will either bring the countries to the Grand Final in Eurovision, or eliminate them in the semi finals, are the songs and the performances! However, based on the statistics from the past years, I managed to find some interesting facts about “when” or “how” does each of the countries qualify for the Final – based on either their running orders, singing before or after a certain country, being with a certain country in the same semi final, etc, and thus who are the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers’ of the running order draw.

The statistics I used in this research are from 2010-2017, when the competition rules were more or less the same as they are now – two semi finals, 10 qualifiers per semi final, 50% jury votes + 50% televotes. 2008 and 2009 haven’t been taken into this research, due to the fact that nine of the ten qualifiers were selected through televoting only, and the 10th qualifier was chosen by the juries.

Here is what the stats tell us:

01 (50%)

With the exception of 2013 (when both songs failed to qualify) and 2014 (when both songs qualified), one of the two songs that opens the semi finals normally qualifies, which gives both countries a 50% chance.

Semi 1 – Azerbaijan (100% qualification rate)

This is going to be the first time ever that Azerbaijan opens the semi final. The earliest running order draw they previously had was number 04 in 2013. Azerbaijan qualified in every single occasion.

Semi 2 – Norway (71.43% qualification rate)

It is also the first time Norway is going to open the semi final. The earliest running order draw they had in the past was number 02 in 2011, when Stella Mwangi failed to qualify for the Final in Dusseldorf with “Haba Haba”. Fun fact – unless someone from the first semi final gets ad-hoc disqualified, Alexander Rybak’s “That’s How You Write A Song” will be the 1500th song in the Eurovision History.

02 (56.25%)

The myth of the running order position 02 being the worst thing that could happen to you in Eurovision is no longer true. With the exception of 2014 when neither of the two song to perform second in the semi final, every year at least one song qualified. In the last two years, the song from the second semi qualified, the one in semi 1 failed.

Semi 1 – Iceland (62.50% qualification rate)

In eight occasions, Iceland managed to qualify five times. However, they failed every time in the past three years, and the statistics are not on their side either being song 02 in semi final 1. At the same time, every time Iceland failed to qualify for the Grand Final they were drawn in the opposite semi final to Slovenia, and Czech Republic was in the Contest. However, they had this exact running order position, when Greta Salome & Jonsi qualified for the Grand Final with “Never Forget”. Overall, the statistics say that Ari is going to struggle in Lisbon.

Semi 2 – Romania (100% qualification rate)

Romania is one of the few countries to have a 100% qualification rate. The earliest running order draw they had was last year, when Ilinca & Alex performed in position 05. Given their perfect qualification rate, and a better chance of qualifying from position 02 in the second semi, Romania should be one of the ten qualifiers.

03 (31.25%)

Number 03 is statistically the worst running order position a country could get in the Contest in the Semi Finals. Five songs out of 16 managed to qualify from this running order position – however, it never happened that both songs qualified in the same year. Three of the five qualifiers were in semi 1, and two of them were in semi 2.

Semi 1 – Albania (37.50% qualification rate)

Three of the last eight Albanian songs managed to qualify for the Eurovision Final. Aurela Gace had this exact same running order position back in 2011, and failed to make it. They were ahead of Belgium last year as well, when Lindita failed to bring her country back into the final. Not looking good for Albania based on the stats.

Semi 2 – Serbia (71.43% qualification rate)

This is the first time for Serbia to perform third in the semi final. They have previously opened the semi final twice, and qualified once. In seven attempts, Serbia qualified five times. However, every time Serbia sent a band (or a duet), they failed to qualify. Also, both times Serbia failed to qualify they were in the same semi final as Austria, who is now in semi 1. Taking all of this into account, if we look at it statistically – if any of the two songs qualify from position 03 this year, it’ll be Serbia.

04 (43.75%)

Number 04 is the second-worst running order position a country can get. Seven songs out of 16 managed to qualify in the past eight years from this running order position.

Semi 1 – Belgium (62.50% qualification rate)

Belgium was drawn to perform fourth in the second semi final back in 2011, when Witloof Bay missed the qualification line by a single point. As I mentioned before, when they performed right after Albania last year, they managed to make it to the Finals. Also, Belgium is on a good run here, with their last three entries all making it to the Finals, so statistically, if one of the two songs from this running order position makes it to the finals – it will surely be Belgium.

Semi 2 – San Marino (14.29% qualification rate)

As we all know, San Marino made it to the Grand Final only once, in 2014 with Valentina Monetta and “Maybe”. This is not their earliest running order draw, as Valentina Monetta was drawn to perform second in 2013. On the positive side, the only time San Marino qualified for the Final was also the only time they were in the same semi final with Ukraine, which is also the case now.

05 (50%)

Eight songs out of 16 managed to qualify for the Final from this running order position. Last year both Belgium and Romania managed to qualify from this position though. The only song to fail in the past two years was Ivan with “Help You Fly” for Belarus.

Semi 1 – Czech Republic (33.33% qualification rate)

In their three attempts, the Czechs have qualified only once (in 2016 with Gabriela Guncikova). The earliest draw they had until now was 08 in 2015, when Marta & Vaclav failed to make it to the Final. If we look at stats only, it’s not looking good for Mikolas.

Semi 2 – Denmark (71.43% qualification rate)

This is the second time Denmark is drawn to perform 5th in their semi final – the last time this was the case in 2013, when Emmelie de Forest ended up winning the whole thing. Also, every time Denmark was drawn in the first half of their semi final, they qualified. Even though the qualification rate from this running order position is rather low, it shouldn’t be a big issue for Rasmussen.

06 (68.75%)

If you are drawn in the first part of the semi final, number 06 is the number you want, as this is the running order position that has the highest qualification rate. 11 songs out of 16 that performed 6th in the semi have made it to the final. In the last three years the only song to fail from this running order position was Montenegro’s Slavko last year in Kiev.

Semi 1 – Lithuania (62.50% qualification rate)

Five out of the last eight Lithuanian songs have qualified for the Final. Every single time Lithuania qualified for the Finals, they were in the same semi final as Portugal, which is clearly not the case now – but Portugal is voting in their semi final. It should be an easy road to the Final for Ieva Zasimauskaite.

Semi 2 – Russia (100% qualification rate)

Russia is the second of five countries with a 100% qualification rate in the second semi final. This is going to be the very first time that Russia is going to perform in the second semi final. Dina Garipova had this running order position in semi final 1 in 2013, and qualified for the Final. Yulia was originally drawn to perform third in the second semi final last year. Statistics say she has much better chances to qualify this year.

07 (62.50%)

10 out of 16 songs from this running order position have qualified for the Final. However, in the last six years, only one of the two songs with this running order position has qualified – four were in semi 1, and two were in semi 2.

Semi 1 – Israel (50% qualification rate)

Even though their qualification rate is only 50%, Israel seems to be on a very good run as their last three entries have all qualified with ease for the Final. This particular running order position gives slightly better chances to Israel than to Moldova, thus even though not ideal chances – but Netta shouldn’t have issues qualifying.

Semi 2 – Moldova (62.50% qualification rate)

Every time Moldova sent a band to Eurovision, they qualified for the Grand Final. They also had this exact running order position back in 2011 when Zdob Shi Zdub represented their country with “So Lucky”. Given the lower chances of qualification with this running order from semi 2, Moldova’s qualification might not be entirely certain.

08 (62.50%)

This is the most interesting running order position, as either both songs made it or both of them failed in the last eight years. Last year both Azerbaijan and Denmark made it from this running order position, while San Marino and Macedonia failed in 2016.

Semi 1 – Belarus (50% qualification rate)

Every time Belarus was drawn in the first half of their respective semi final they failed to qualify. Belarus were drawn to perform right after Israel in 2016 as well, when Hovi Star made it, but Ivan failed to qualify for the Final. Statistically, it’s not looking good for Alekseev.

Semi 2 – The Netherlands (50% qualification rate)

Anouk was drawn to perform eighth in her semi final back in 2013, where she managed to bring The Netherlands back into the final after nine years. The only time the Dutch failed in the last five years was in 2015 with Trijntje, who had a very early draw. Even though it’s looking rather bad for Alekseev, it’s looking good for Waylon.

09 (50%)

This running order position is normally either the last song drawn in the first half, or the first song drawn in the second half. In both semi finals this year, this is still a song in the first half. Eight songs from 16 have made it from this running order position, and the only one to fail in the past three years was Ireland last year.

Semi 1 – Estonia (50% qualification rate)

Salvador Sobral had this exact running order position, and he managed to win the whole thing. When it comes to Estonia, the only times they failed from the first half were the times they were drawn to perform third. In the last four years this running order position from the first semi fianl have always qualified. Statistically, it’s looking good for Elina.

Semi 2 – Australia (100% qualification rate)

Both times Australia had to go through the semi final, they qualified with ease, and both times they were in the first half. This is the second time that Australia has received  the last running order position of the first half (number 10 in 2016). Even though this running order position is not that good for the entries in semi final 2, Australia was given all the help it needs (statistically) to qualify.

10 (62.50%)

Same as the running order positions 07 and 08, ten out of the 16 songs from this running order position have qualified for the Final. In the last three years, the only song to fail from this running order position was San Marino last year in Semi 2, when Valentina and Jimmie managed to score a single point.

Semi 1 – Bulgaria (33.33% qualification rate)

Even though only two of their six entries have qualified for the Final, those were their last two entries which both ended in the top five as well. Bulgaria have had this running order position in semi 1 back in 2012, but Sofi Marinova failed to qualify for the Final, after losing the tie-break with Tooji. Given their recent run, and the positive qualification rate of the running order position, Equinox should have no issues in Lisbon.

Semi 2 – Georgia (62.50% qualification rate)

Georgia have the exact same qualification rate as this running order position. Five out of their last eight entries have qualified for the Final. Every time Georgia were in the same semi final as Sweden (or had the same running order position as Sweden the same year), they failed to qualify. Statistically, if one of the two songs fails to qualify from position number 10, it will be Georgia.

11 (43.75%)

If you are drawn to compete in the second half of your semi final, this is the one running order position you definitely want not to get, as it is statistically the worst one. Only 7 songs from the last 16 have qualified from this running order position, but both of them last year qualified (Poland and Croatia).

Semi 1 – Macedonia (12.50% qualification rate)

The only time Macedonia qualified for the final in the last eight years was in 2012 when Kaliopi represented her country for the first time. The Macedonians had this running order position twice in the past – in 2011 with Vlatko Ilievski, and in 2014 with Tijana Dapcevic. Statistically, it’s really not looking good for Eye Cue.

Semi 2 – Poland (66.67 qualification rate)

Even though this is the worst spot in the second half of the semi finals, Poland has had this exact running order position last year, and Kasia Mos made it to the Final. Every time Poland was in the second semi final they have qualified, and also, whenever they were in the same semi final as Slovenia, they qualified. It looks like this running order position won’t trouble them again.

12 (75%)

The artists don’t just want to get 12 points from everyone, they should also want to get this running order number, as 75% of the ones who did also have qualified for the Final. In the last five years the only song to fail from this position was Iceland in 2015.

Semi 1 – Croatia (33.33% qualification rate)

The two times Croatia made it to the Final were in the past two years, thus one could say they are having a good run. Even though their qualification rate overall is low, they should have no issues qualifying from this running order position.

Semi 2 – Malta (50% qualification rate)

Whenever Malta had a draw around the middle of the show, they failed to qualify for the Final. If we go with their latest trend that they qualify in every even-numbered year, Christabelle should have no issues qualifying from this running order position.

13 (50%)

Number 13 proved to bring bad luck to the last four songs performed in this running order. The last song to qualify from this position was Sweden in 2015 with Mans Zelmerlow, who later won the Contest.

Semi 1 – Austria (66.67% qualification rate)

Out of their six entries that had to go through the semi finals, four of them have qualified. The last time they failed to qualify was in 2013 with Natalia Kelly, so ever since then they had a good run. Even though the running order position is not that favorable, Cesar’s qualifying chances statistically are still OK.

Semi 2 – Hungary (100% qualification rate)

Hungary is the fourth of the five countries in the second semi final with a 100% qualification rate. The only bands who failed to qualify from this running order position were all Danish. Due to these facts, the guys of AWS shouldn’t have big issues at qualifying.

14 (75%)

Another great running order position is the number 14, as 12 of the 16 entries have qualified. The trend also shows that in every even-numbered year, both entries with this running order position qualify for the Final.

Semi 1 – Greece (87.50% qualification rate)

The only time Greece failed to qualify was in 2016, with their earliest running order draw. Considering their qualification rate, and that this is one of the best running order draws a country can get, Greece is almost a certain finalist.

Semi 2 – Latvia (25% qualification rate)

Latvia qualified twice in the last eight years – in 2015 and 2016 – the first time they were drawn first in the second half, and the second time the first in the first half. Even though statistically it’s not looking good for Laura Rizzotto, she got all the help she could get with having this running order position.

15 (68.75%)

Of the last 10 entries with the running order 15, the two performed in 2016 were the only ones to fail – Highway for Montenegro and Agnete for Norway.

Semi 1 – Finland (37.50% qualification rate)

Even though this is a rather decent running order position, Finland is in a very bad run at Eurovision, as their last three entries have all failed to qualify. Every time Finland qualified, they were in a different semi final to Montenegro, and in the same semi final as Bulgaria, which is also the case now. Thus statistically, Saara Aalto should be right at the qualification line.

Semi 2 – Sweden (83.33% qualification rate)

The only time Sweden failed to qualify for the Final was back in 2010. They are having the best run of all countries, as they won the Contest twice in the last six years. This also means that Benjamin should not be worried about his qualification chances at all.

16 (53.33%)

Taking into account that number 16 is one of the last running order positions, it is the worst one to have. Even when the last performed song had the position number 16, it failed to qualify (Moje 3 for Serbia in 2013). Even in the last two years, only two songs qualified (one from each year – Georgia in 2016 and Armenia in 2017).

Semi 1 – Armenia (85.71% qualification rate)

As we just mentioned, Armenia had this exact same running order position last year, and Artsvik found her way to the Grand Final. Also, the only time they didn’t qualify was in 2011 when they performed 4th and none of the first five acts have made it. Even though the running order position is not ideal, Sevak and Armenia should have on issues to repeat last year’s result (qualification).

Semi 2 – Montenegro (33.33% qualification rate)

Montenegro qualified for the Grand Final twice – in 2014 and 2015, when both times they sent a male soloist singing a Balkan ballad. It is also worth mentioning that in the second semi final this is going to be the third-to-last act to be performed. Five out of the last six acts performed third-to-last in the second semi final have managed to qualify. Even though the qualification rate of Montenegro is rather bad, being the third-to-last brings their chances slightly higher.

17 (58.33%)

Seven out of 12 songs that were performed in this running order position have qualified for the Final. Four of those seven were also the last songs to be performed on the night. In semi final 1 this is going to be the third-to-last act, while in the second semi final it will be the second-to-last act.

Semi 1 – Switzerland (25% qualification rate)

After five years in semi final 2, Switzerland is back in the first semi final. The Swiss managed to qualify twice in the last eight years (in 2010 and 2014), and every time they were late in the running order, they failed to qualify. Performing third-to-last in the first semi final has a 50% qualification rate. The last song to qualify from third-to-last was once again Armenia last year. Overall, statistically, not looking great for Zibbz.

Semi 2 – Slovenia (37.50% qualification rate)

The only times Slovenia qualified for the Grand Final was when they were in semi final 2, and late in the draw, which is the case now as well. They now got a second-to-last position for the second time in a row, but last year Omar Naber didn’t have luck from number 17 in semi final 1. They were also second-to-last to perform in 2015 when Maraaya qualified for the Final by finishing 5th in their semi. In all three occasions Slovenia qualified, they were in the same semi final as both Ireland and Israel, which is not the case this year.

18 (87.50%)

A total of eight songs were performed with the running order number 18, and seven of them qualified for the Grand Final. The only one to fail was Omar Naber last year for Slovenia.

 Semi 1 – Ireland (50% qualification rate)

The second-to-last songs in the first semi final in the last two years were also the only two songs in this position to fail to qualify for the Final. Whenever Ireland was drawn in the second half of their semi final they also managed to qualify, but they are currently on a bad run, having qualified the last time in 2013, which was also the last time they were competing in semi 1. Given these stats, Ireland’s qualifying chances are below average.

Semi 2 – Ukraine (100% qualification rate)

This is going to be the first time that Ukraine is closing the semi final. The song closing the second semi final has always qualified to the Grand Final, and given Ukraine’s 100% qualification rate, Melovin is almost a sure qualifier statistically.

19 (100%)

There were only two occasions in the last eight years that we had 19 songs in semi finals, and both of these songs qualified – “Watch My Dance” for Greece in 2011 which also won the semi final, and “Lipstick” for Ireland also in 2011.

Semi 1 – Cyprus (71.43% qualification rate)

This is going to be the first time that Cyprus is closing their semi final. Since they took a year out in 2014, they have qualified every single time. Also, whenever Cyprus was in the same semi final as Greece and performing later than them, they qualified for the Final. Statistically, Eleni Foureira is almost a certain finalist.

Conclusion

Based on all of these facts, and based on the qualification records from the past eight years, we can say that the five best running order positions are 06, 12, 14, 18 and 19, whilst the acts drawn to perform in positions 03, 04 and 11 will struggle to qualify the most.

This is all statistics only – as I said at the very start, what really matters is the songs and performances. But one thing is for sure – we are in for a very exciting edition of the Eurovision Song Contest!

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