Eurovision 2015 odds: Betting tips on how to pick a winner in Vienna

It may seem like a mess of glitter and gimmicks, but can you make an accurate guess on who will win the Eurovision Song Contest?

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The Independent Culture

Eurovision 2015 returns to our screens once more on May 23, with over two dozen countries from the continent - and Australia - battling it out to be crowned the ultimate musical talent of Europe.

Many British onlookers may scoff at the thought of the competition, especially given the UK's poor form of late and the general belief that it is fixed, but the contest is far fairer than it used to be. Even though the UK's chances this year are once again slim, there is still fun to be had on Saturday evening - and what's more, there is money to be made.

To work your head around the subtleties of Eurovision and the best route to guessing who will win the competition, Daniel Gould, a Eurovision expert and founder of sofabet.com, gave us the key signals to search for in preparation of placing for final bets.

Forget about your misconceptions

"These days what it takes for a country to win Eurovision is the opposite of the traditional British notion of what wins Eurovision. The British think that you need: one, a gimmick, and two, political voting. In the last eight years the rules have changed in the contest to move it away from that kind of thinking and increasingly towards creditable songs sung by creditable artists and those rule changes have basically involved the reintroduction of national juries in every country. So in every country, alongside a television vote, there are five people who are music professionals who are giving their opinion on the songs."

Tip: The UK's entry from Electro Velvet is the ultimate gimmick and will fail to make the top ten.

Middle of the road is better than novelty

"What’s being rewarded now is credibility. There's a tendency towards middle of the road entries, something that is not going to offend.

"Look at the runner-up from 2014, The Netherlands. It was a duo with a quiet, intimate song, a kind of Country and Western number. It was very lacking in bells and whistles and that very nearly won. That’s the kind of thing you need to be looking at these days."

Tip: Estonia's duet - Elina Born & Stig Rästa - don't bring the house down but their song is a strong top-five contender.

Look at the reactions to the semi-finals and final rehearsal

"In recent years, by the day of the final, the market has proved very accurate. Rehearsals are important signals as are the semi-finals themselves. We now get to see all but the automatic qualifiers perform on the Tuesday and Thursday, so you can actually watch the majority of the performers before the final. That gives us some crucial clues."

Tip: There was huge betting market support for Russia after their semi-final performance and second-half draw allocation for the final.

Watch iTunes after the semi-finals

"Last year, they released the songs on iTunes after the semi-finals. The top five in the final were in those kind of positions in the iTunes chart around Europe, so you had a very definite signal as to what people were buying after watching the semi-finals."

Tip: Belgium had an impressive iTunes performance after the first semi-final.

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Look at the running order

"Another signal is that the producers now decide the running order for the final. In this era, the acts just out whether they are going to be in the first half or the second half of the final. This is what the producers are then forced to do: if a country has won a semi-final, they are not going to put that country near the beginning of whatever half of the draw. That would look like they are trying to sabotage that entry.

"Producers' control of where entrants sing in their respective halves of the draw, means a song with a strong chance won't be buried with a single-digit draw. Last year, Conchita and Sweden's Sanna were betting favourites drawn in the first half of a 26-runner field. Producers kindly gave them 11th and 13th respectively, so as not to hinder their chances too much. They finished first and third.

Tip: Keep an eye on the middle section of the draw and towards the end.

Who are the favourites this year?

"The hot favourites this year are Sweden. They have one of their biggest pop stars, Måns Zelmerlöw and he is singing a song called "Heroes", which sounds a bit like an Avicii song. So it’s got a kind of country-feel to the verse and then it’s a kind of dance beat to the chorus. It’s a very strong, well produced, very well performed by a very good looking male. It ticks every box.

"The second favourite is an Italian trio called Il Volo. They are kind of a Collabro, Il Divo type Popera act. They are very popular in Italy and USA; in fact, they have been nominated for Grammys, and have performed on American Idol. They are a world class act.

"The third favourite is Australia. Australia have been invited as a one-off wild card to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the show. They are sending one of their biggest pop stars to the contest with an excellent, credible song.

Tip: Sweden are maintaining their position as the firm favourite in Vienna.

Will there be a surprise candidate?

"Estonia have a very good duet that would be knocking on the top ten in the UK charts. Another country that has a strong song is Russia. Russia are going to do very well. Very probable top five candidates.

Tip: A strong semi-final appearance means Russia is a good bet for top five, or higher.

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