Melanie ‘meL’ Capone is no stranger to the spotlight. As the IGL of Cloud9 White, North America’s best women’s team, she has won every major North American Game Changers tournament, and she continues to grind the main Valorant Champions Tour circuit for a spot in Challengers.
In the second qualifier for VCT Stage 2 Challengers, meL entered the spotlight once again after dropping almost 60 kills across two maps against free-agent team Clanless. She put up a quartet of four-kill rounds and had a first-kill success rate of 14-2.
Cloud9 White ultimately bombed out of the qualifying stage in their following matches against Gen.G and unsigned team Girl Kissers, but Valorant fans saw the outrageous scoreline and had to get their own opinions off about it.
Her fans and detractors went to the normal spaces, Twitter and Reddit, to discuss the standout performance and give their own opinions on meL’s incredible performance.
“It’s kind of surreal,” meL said in an interview with Dexerto. “You see online people so passionately arguing about you, your life and your team, and people don’t have to have really any clue about how you feel.”
Seeing the discourse, meL wrote a Twitlonger about her thoughts on what people were saying about her. She detailed her motivations for playing Valorant, explaining how winning Game Changers was never her ultimate goal, in an attempt to dispel the narrative that she was complacent as the best player on a women’s team and that she was just cashing a paycheck.
“What I was reading a lot of was like, ‘Yeah, why would meL ever join a coed team when she can just get game changers money or she has a stable paycheck on Cloud9 White? Why would she ever leave Cloud9 White, and blah, blah, blah,’” meL said.
“And not to say I’m unhappy with Cloud9 White, me and my teammates have very similar goals, but I feel like I had to correct the public outlook on the situation.”
Dominating Game Changers was never the goal
meL isn’t satisfied by being on the best Game Changers team and has goals beyond the women and marginalized genders-only tournament series.
The first step in reaching those goals is continuing to grind the main VCT circuit and qualify for Challengers, which meL and her teammates have been trying to do since the start of the Riot Games tournament series. The farthest the team has gone in those qualifying tournaments have been the upper bracket round of 32.
“I’m going to go with whatever team that allows me to fulfil my competitive goals, which is to play on a tier-one level. And I don’t care if people think that’s a ‘bad financial decision’ because I could ‘play in VCT Game Changers and just farm the prize pool.’”
This isn’t a new narrative she is perpetuating either. Her goals and ambition have remained consistent throughout her young career in Valorant.
At this point, meL said, Game Changers is a side hustle. A gig that Cloud9 White can step in to, win without dropping a map at times, and go back to practicing for their main goal of VCT qualification.
While the squad has not made it into the Challengers league, meL said the team were disappointed in the results but felt great about their performance specifically.
“I feel like that was a question on everyone’s mind, ‘Ih, can meL replicate this kind of performance outside of game changers?’” the 21 year old player said. “I feel like I’ve shown that capability for sure and I think my team has done that as well. We’ve been able to play against pretty prolific teams and prolific players and been able to do some damage.”
meL’s ultimate goal is Valorant Champions
The mentality of constant growth and drive to make it to the top is not a shared mentality across all teams in Game Changers, according to meL.
While prominent squads like Shopify Rebellion and Gen.G Black have also put their skills to the test in VCT qualifiers, not many other teams from the NA Game Changers circuit have consistently grinded coed or VCT qualifiers like Cloud9 White.
“There are plenty of teams that do share that mentality and I think there are plenty of teams that don’t and it definitely shows. Teams that are playing well in Game Changers are the ones that share that mentality.” she said.
meL and the rest of the Cloud9 White squad are not quiet about wanting other rivals at the top and seeing more women’s teams take on VCT and other third-party events. They have previously challenged teams to stick together and push themselves.
But those challenges seem to fall on deaf ears: After Game Changers, some teams restructure and drop players, or go into hibernation until the next women’s tournament comes around.
But other Game Changers teams aren’t her concern at the moment. Right now, meL herself has lofty individual goals beyond just proving that she can consistently perform at a high level in the top tier of competition.
“I want to be at Champs in the next three to five years or I [will have] failed my own expectations,” meL said.
With her eyes on the top international LAN tournament in the circuit, meL still has a long way to go, but one thing is certain: She won’t become complacent or let others control her story on her journey there.