Semi-final qualifications 2016: track record as predictive tool

Tempting though it might be to try and build a regression model to predict who might qualify from this year’s two semi-finals, that would be a lot of work. And hard. But mostly too much a lot of work. Instead, we’ve decided to look at past experiences qualifying from either of the two semi-finals for any year’s Grand Final.

Here are some of the key consideration that inform this analysis:

  • We looked at each country’s record qualifying from any semi-finals, including the monster semis from 2004-2007
  • However, we started with 2008, for parsing lists of qualifiers the first year of two semi-finals each producing 10 qualifiers
  • We did not count being pre-qualified for a Grand Final as a qualification
  • We ignored the “wild card” rules of 2008 and 2009 and used instead the 10 highest ranked entries in those semi-finals, rather than the 10 qualified finalists

Those were our guiding principles.

Next, we went back to each year’s semi-final scoreboards from 2008-2015 to see how each place in the performing sequence did. Most years these slots were randomly assigned; the last few years we’ve had the awful “producer-led draw”. However, rather than focus on scores or rankings we simply used “not qualified” (zero) and “qualified) (one). Because for this analysis, that’s the focus: getting over this first hurdle towards a potential win overall.

Finally, we did a really statistically lazy thing: we merely averaged the percentage of qualifications (by the country/broadcaster) with the percentage of entries from that spot in the sequence having qualified. Let’s jump in…

Semi-final One

Here’s our data crunching for the first semi-final:

Slot Country Artist Song Slot qual Country qual Average
1  Finland Sandhja Sing It Away 25% 60% 43%
2  Greece Argo Utopian Land 63% 100% 81%
3  Moldova Lidia Isac Falling Stars 25% 70% 48%
4  Hungary Freddie Pioneer 13% 83% 48%
5  Croatia Nina Kraljić Lighthouse 50% 44% 47%
6  Netherlands Douwe Bob Slow Down 63% 25% 44%
7  Armenia Iveta Mukuchyan LoveWave 75% 88% 82%
8  San Marino Serhat I Didn’t Know 50% 16% 33%
9  Russia Sergey Lazarev You Are the Only One 63% 100% 81%
10  Czech Republic Gabriela Gunčíková I Stand 63% 0% 31%
11  Cyprus Minus One Alter Ego 13% 40% 26%
12  Austria Zoë Loin d’ici 75% 33% 54%
13  Estonia Jüri Pootsmann Play 63% 42% 52%
14  Azerbaijan Samra Miracle 88% 100% 94%
15  Montenegro Highway The Real Thing 63% 29% 46%
16  Iceland Greta Salóme Hear Them Calling 75% 66% 71%
17  Bosnia and Herzegovina Dalal & Dean feat. Ana Rucner & Jala Ljubav je 63% 100% 81%
18  Malta Ira Losco Walk on Water 50% 44% 47%

Next we plotted the distribution of the averages. This isn’t a Gaussian distribution, but we wouldn’t expect it to be anyways: different years had different numbers of entries in a semi-final, different countries participated, and each year is its own statistical event.

We subsequently looked for points across these averages at which we could break the distribution down with some typology of performance. In the end we settled on:

Level Range
Poor 0-35%
Marginal 36-46%
Good 47-70%
Excellent 71=100%

For semi-final one we get the following distribution: three (3) poor, five marginal, five good and five excellent. See below:

Slot Country Average Prediction
1  Finland 43% Marginal
2  Greece 81% Excellent
3  Moldova 48% Good
4  Hungary 48% Good
5  Croatia 47% Good
6  Netherlands 44% Marginal
7  Armenia 82% Excellent
8  San Marino 33% Poor
9  Russia 81% Excellent
10  Czech Republic 31% Poor
11  Cyprus 26% Poor
12  Austria 54% Marginal
13  Estonia 52% Marginal
14  Azerbaijan 94% Excellent
15  Montenegro 46% Marginal
16  Iceland 71% Good
17  Bosnia and Herzegovina 81% Excellent
18  Malta 47% Good

From this, our qualifiers would be: Greece, Moldova, Hungary, Croatia, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Bosnia & Hercegovina and Malta.

Second Semi-final

Using the same approach for the Thursday night show, we get:

Slot Country Artist Song Slot qual Final qual Average
1  Latvia Justs Heartbeat 63% 36% 49%
2  Poland Michał Szpak Color of Your Life 38% 33% 35%
3 Switzerland Rykka The Last of Our Kind 38% 20% 29%
4  Israel Hovi Star Made of Stars 75% 42% 59%
5  Belarus Ivan Help You Fly 25% 33% 29%
6  Serbia Sanja Vučić ZAA Goodbye (Shelter) 75% 71% 73%
7  Ireland Nicky Byrne Sunlight 38% 50% 44%
8  Macedonia Kaliopi Dona (Дона) 50% 42% 46%
9  Lithuania Donny Montell I’ve Been Waiting for This Night 38% 55% 46%
10  Australia Dami Im Sound of Silence 50% n/a 50%
11  Slovenia ManuElla Blue and Red 50% 33% 42%
12  Romania Ovidiu Anton Moment of Silence 50% 100% 75%
13  Bulgaria Poli Genova If Love Was a Crime 88% 11% 49%
14  Denmark Lighthouse X Soldiers of Love 75% 73% 74%
15  Ukraine Jamala 1944 63% 100% 81%
16  Norway Agnete Icebreaker 50% 78% 64%
17  Georgia Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz Midnight Gold 63% 75% 69%
18  Albania Eneda Tarifa Fairytale 50% 55% 53%
19  Belgium Laura Tesoro What’s the Pressure 38% 27% 32%

Next we plotted the distribution of the averages, using the same typology:

Level Range
Poor 0-35%
Marginal 36-46%
Good 47-70%
Excellent 71=100%

For semi-final two we get the following distribution: four (4) poor, six marginal, four good and four excellent. And one wildcard: Australia, which hasn’t yet competed in a semi-final. See below:

Slot Country Average Predict
1  Latvia 49% Good
2  Poland 35% Poor
3 Switzerland 29% Poor
4  Israel 59% Good
5  Belarus 29% Poor
6  Serbia 73% Excellent
7  Ireland 44% Marginal
8  Macedonia 46% Marginal
9  Lithuania 46% Marginal
10  Australia 50% Good*
11  Slovenia 42% Marginal
12  Romania 75% Excellent
13  Bulgaria 49% Marginal
14  Denmark 74% Excellent
15  Ukraine 81% Excellent
16  Norway 64% Good
17  Georgia 69% Good
18  Albania 53% Marginal
19  Belgium 32% Poor

From this, our qualifiers would be: Latvia, Israel, Serbia, Romania, Denmark, Ukraine, Norway and Georgia. That’s only 8. Given how well Australia did across Europe with both televoters and juries in 2015, we grade them as a Good*. Still only gives us 9 qualifiers.

We have two “marginal” countries – Lithuania and Macedonia – at the top of their band (46%). I would err on the side of weighting the country score—which is significantly reflective of what sorts of resources go into selecting and promoting an entrant in any given year—over the slot score. That puts Lithuania ahead of Macedonia.

However…

This analysis does not take into account anything else, such as song quality, profile of artist, or diaspora or regional voting blocs. Fear not: we are also crunching those numbers. We will look at numerous attributes of entries and artists, including what we can glean from national finals and pre-Contest live performances.

Stay tuned!

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