Bilibili Gaming beat Rare Atom 3-1 in first playoff series of 2022 LPL Spring Split

Bilibili Gaming display ongoing weaknesses around the early game in 3-1 victory over Rare Atom.

Photo via Riot Games

Bilibili Gaming defeated Rare Atom in the first round of the 2022 LPL Spring Split playoffs 3-1 today. Their next matchup will be against Top Esports on Monday, March 28.

The first day of playoffs came just one day after the official end of the 2022 LPL Spring Split regular season, bringing a matchup between the eighth-seed Bilibili Gaming and ninth-seed Rare Atom. Two teams entered the playoffs with different trajectories, and both fought for a spot in the second round of the playoffs. 

In game one, Bilibili Gaming drafted a composition centered on the early-game strengths of Volibear, while Rare Atom opted for a composition built for the late-game through their Jinx pick onto AD carry iBoy. 

Bilibili Gaming, however, continued their struggles around early-game pressure and opted for a passive playstyle counterintuitive to their early-game team composition. As a result, Rare Atom capitalized on this compositional blunder and jungler Leyan applied more pressure onto Bilibili Gaming past the 10-minute mark.

While Bilibili Gaming kept this gold even throughout the mid game, the scenario changed when Rare Atom aced the entirety of Bilibili Gaming at 23 minutes to grab the first Baron of the game. This catapulted a lead for Rare Atom, who eventually used this lead to end game one in 27-minutes to lead the series 1-0.

In game two, Rare Atom drafted Jinx for iBoy again and took Volibear from Bilibili Gaming to try and snowball a lead for the AD carry. At first, it worked out for Rare Atom after they grabbed early first blood at two minutes. However, Bilibili Gaming’s strong burst and team fight damage from picks like Kennen and LeBlanc overpowered Rare Atom’s scaling composition early after.

At 24 minutes, Rare Atom attempted to thwart Bilibili Gaming’s baron take. They failed, however, and the attempt resulted in the deaths of all five champions from Rare Atom. From here, Bilibili Gaming played towards their win teamfight win conditions and used Kennen to capitalize on Rare Atom’s lack of teamwork, ending the game in 28 minutes and tying the series at 1-1.

Rare Atom attempted to surprise Bilibili Gaming in the third game with a Nocturne pick, an attempt to scale for the late game against their opponents’ strong early-game presence with Volibear. While Leyan’s Nocturne found one kill early on to Bilibili Gaming top laner Breathe’s Kennen, it paled in comparison to Weiwei’s Volibear. 

The Bilibili Gaming jungler tore through the early game once again, holding a four-dragon lead over Rare Atom. He used that advantage and gold lead to place Bilibili Gaming one game away from a series victory.

In the final game, both teams fought for control throughout the first 20 minutes, where Bilibili Gaming built a slight gold lead of 4,000 over their opponents. Rare Atom showcased a strong fight against their opponents, but were overpowered by Bilibili Gaming’s superior teamfighting. 

Bilibili Gaming led Rare Atom by four dragons again and played towards their late-game strengths to close out the final game of the series in 30 minutes.

While ultimately victorious in their first playoff series, this series highlighted a number of worrying concerns for Bilibili Gaming’s chances moving forward in the postseason. Game one showcased a lack of urgency to dominate an early game, even on conventionally strong early-game champions like Volibear. While they found victories over Rare Atom in sub-30-minute games, those wins were more about Rare Atom’s weaknesses playing as a five-man unit. 

In the end, Bilibili Gaming relied again on their strong teamfight abilities instead of showcasing a new variety to play towards early game win conditions. This tendency could become a worrying concern against Top Esports, the LPL fifth seed who made a resurgence from 2-4 early on to climb up the standings. Similar to Rare Atom, Top Esports also made the second-half surge to enter playoffs primed for a deep run.

That match between Bilibili Gaming and TOP Esports will take place on Monday, March 28. The winner will face LNG Esports.

For Rare Atom, this marks the end of their miracle run into the 2022 LPL Spring Split playoffs. Rare Atom began their Spring Split campaign 1-5 before making a strong resurgence in the second half of the split, where they went 7-3 to squeak into the playoffs. While a disheartening end to a promising turnaround, Rare Atom will look to recalibrate for the upcoming 2022 LPL Summer Split and improve upon their ninth-place finish in the spring.

The 2022 LPL Spring Split playoffs will continue on Sunday, March 27, when the LPL seventh seed, EDward Gaming, take on the 10th seed FunPlus Phoenix in a rematch of the 2021 LPL Summer Split finals. 

What once was the final match of the LPL season is now a battle to determine which team continues their playoff run and which one’s season ends before the playoffs even started. The winner of this series will go on to face Weibo Gaming in round two of the 2022 LPL Spring Split playoffs.

The 2022 LPL Spring Split playoffs began on March 26 and will run up to April 10, where the winner of the Grand Final will represent the LPL at the 2022 Mid Season Invitational.

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