Any pot of gold? Some thoughts on the 2017 draw pots for Kyiv

Our friends at have announced that the allocation draw for Kyiv happens on 31 January--a bit later than some years, but not too late by any stretch of the imagination. As we did last year, we thought an analysis would be appropriate.

In advance of next weeks draw for semi-final allocations–and the spot in the Grand Final for hosts Ukraine, whose spot is never producedr-selected for (even more) obvious conflict of interest reasons–we now know the pot allocation for the semi-finallist.  Rather than a pan-Contest randomised draw, the process is as follows:

  • The 6 pre-qualified finalists (UK, hosts Ukraine, Spain, Germany, Italy and Spain) draw which semi-final they must show and will vote in. However, as in 2016 Germany has requested to be allocated the second semi-final, which the Reference Group has approved.
  • All participating host broadcasters delegations are put in one of six (6) pots “based on historical voting patterns as analysed by vote contractor, Digame.
  • Once again, pots mostly have 6 members, though one will have 7 this year (see below).
  • Each delegation draws both its semi-final allocation and whether they will perform in the first versus second half of the draw performance order. Switzerland has petitioned the Reference Group for allocation to the second semi-final, which has been approved (still do not know which half of the semi-final).

Since the producers have been determining the order of performance, the advantages of a later draw seem to have somewhat flattened. We shall see if this continues in 2017

The pots

Here are the six pots, the titles of which are somewhat tongue-in-cheek–changes are italicized:

Pot 1 Balkan Pot 4 Pairs plus
Albania Hungary
F.Y.R. Macedonia Cyprus
Montenegro Greece
Slovenia Romania
Croatia Moldova
Serbia Bulgaria
Pot 2 Scandi
Pot 5  Remnants
Denmark Czech Republic
Finland Portugal
Norway Australia
Iceland Malta
Estonia Austria
Sweden San Marino
Pot 3 Ex-Soviet Pot 6 Diaspora Plus
Armenia Belgium
Azerbaijan The Netherlands
Belarus Ireland
Georgia Latvia
Russia Lithuania
Israel Poland

Whenever one of the ex-Yugoslav republics withdraws–hello Bosnia & Hercegovina–Switzerland and its large ex-Yugo diaspora are shifted back into the Balkan bloc. Similarly, since our 2016 was not from the Scandi bloc, Sweden pops back in and Latvia gets popped out. But Ukraine hosting left a space in the ex-Soviet bloc, which would have gone to Latvia or Israel…but Israel it is.

Pairs Plus includes perennial vote swappers Greece-Cyprus and Romania-Moldova, along with Bulgaria and Hungary. New pot Remnants now adds Portugal (back!), Australia and Austria to Czechia, Malta and San Marino. Also new Diaspora plus combines 3 states with large diaspora in Ireland–Latvia, Lithuania and Poland–with the pairing of somewhat “neighbourly” Belgium and The Netherlands.

This year’s pots are a bit more coherent than 2016. The question is, how would we want these to split across the two semi-finals to flatten out any diasporic voting patterns?

The Verdict

There are no massive winners or losers, but there rarely are from the pot allocation. But here’s a few things to watch next week:

Yet again there will be four from the Balkan pot in one of the two semi-finals. Last year Albania, Serbia and Macedonia were in the same semi-final…but Albania still finished 16th (12th televote; 18th jury vote). In the end only one ex-Yugo from each semi-final qualified (Croatia and Serbia) and neither troubled the scoreboard on Saturday night–even though Serbia swept the televote douze points from its former go-Yugo states.

In the ex-Soviet bloc Russia will be happy to have Israel back in its pot–ideally in the same sem-final–along with  Belarus. Last year the only bloc member who failed to qualify was Belarus. Could all this pot’s members qualify? Possible, but not probable: it will be important whether other stars align for Russia in particular: Ukraine’s semi-final voting assignment and whether Estonia or Latvia (both with large Russphone communities) will be in that semi-final too.

The Scandi pot surprised most with how poorly they did in 2016: only Sweden (the hosts) and not really Scandi Latvia appeared in the Grand Final. This year the Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic national finals are all on 11 March.

Diaspora plus is the only other pot that intrigues us. If Ireland shares its semi-final with only one of Latvia, Lithuania or Poland the Irish chances of qualification increases. Their worst case scenario would be Ireland, Lithuania and Poland in the same semi-final: Ireland and Latvia (with a somewhat less reliable diaspora vote in Eire) would be their best outcome.

We’ll know more after the semi-final allocations next week. Stay tuned!

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