Tonight marks the kick-off of the most flamboyant, over the top and sequin-studded contest of the year.That’s right, the Eurovision singing competition will begin Tuesday night with its first semi-final round in Kiev.While Israel won’t be appearing until the second round on Thursday, there’s still plenty to look out for in the competition – and betting on the outcome is well underway.Israeli Imri Ziv will take the stage Thursday night in the second semi-final singing “I Feel Alive.” But will he make it to the finals on Saturday? And who is likely to take the top prize? In grand European tradition, the bookies and gamblers are paying close attention to the competition, and the favorite to win is Italy’s Francesco Gabbani with “Occidentali’s Karma.” If he does win, it would be only the country’s third win, after 1964 and 1990.If the gamblers are to be believed, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral and Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson will round out the top three. And Israel? Currently placed 26th according to the odds.Ziv, 25, was chosen to represent Israel after winning the finals of the reality TV show Kochav Haba in February. This isn’t his first Eurovision contest either: He performed as a backup singer for Israeli entrants Nadav Guedj in 2015 in Vienna and Hovi Star last year in Stockholm. On Tuesday, 18 acts will take the stage and another 18 will do so on Thursday. Twenty of those performers will advance to the semi-finals, where six countries – Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Ukraine – already have guaranteed slots.And while hundreds of thousands of Israelis will tune in to watch, a lucky handful of dedicated fans got a preview of more than half of the acts that will take the stage in Kiev this week.Of the 43 entrants, 28 performed in Tel Aviv in April as part of the “Israel Calling” trip – which brought the acts for a four-day trip to see Israel.The biggest geopolitical drama of this year’s competition is already over after Russia pulled out. Ukraine, which is hosting because it won last year, told Russia that its contestant, Yulia Samoylova, is not allowed to enter Ukraine, since she is under a three-year travel ban for illegally crossing the Ukrainian border during her 2015 visit to Crimea.The international song contest has been around since 1956 with Israel participating since 1973.A record-breaking more than 200 million people watched last year’s competition, where Hovi Star came in 14th place with “Made of Stars.” In 2015, Nadav Guedj came in 9th place with his song “Golden Boy.” Israel has won the competition three times in its 39 performances; 1978’s “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” by Alphabeta, 1979’s “Hallelujah” by Gali Atari and 1998’s “Diva” by Dana International.The semifinals are being held Tuesday and Thursday at 10 p.m.and the finals are on Saturday at 10 p.m. – all on Channel 1.