Feeling pressured, Mel ended up dropping out of school to work on VCT.
This article discusses suicide. If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please visit findahelpline.com for help.
Freaks 4U, the tournament organizer chosen by Riot Games to run the EMEA VCT circuit, said today it will launch an internal investigation following a public statement made by an observer who detailed suicide jokes made by a Freaks 4U employee.
“We are taking your statement very seriously and are sorry to have read about your experience,” Freaks 4U said. “We are currently looking into this matter internally and promise to follow up with you.”
VALORANT observer Melanie “mel” Hoi-San Man said in a TwitLonger today that one member of staff joked about committing suicide if she couldn’t make the flight to Berlin, the central hub of operations for the EMEA VCT. This was confirmed in a screengrab of the conversation acquired by Dot Esports.
Not sure how to respond, Mel screengrabbed the conversation and sent it to upper management. The person who made the jokes was then asked to avoid making jokes about death, which in turn made them start acting cold toward Mel.
Mel says when she was first hired to work VCT EMEA in 2021, there was a healthy work environment that rotated observers. In 2022, things changed. Freaks 4U Gaming decided that it would run one POV observer and one cinematic observer for the entire year. Mel was asked to fill in for a week when the cinematic observer wasn’t available and she agreed.
After this, Mel says that she was booked to do VCT EMEA on a fairly consistent basis, but the requests were last minute. The pressure began to mount when she was asked by her production manager why she couldn’t stay in Berlin to continue working for VCT EMEA.
“They would ask me every single time whenever I would be in the studio in Berlin doing VCT EMEA,” Mel said. “Because of this, I had dropped my university to do more of VCT EMEA.”
Mel dropped out of her university, where she was studying for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology as a first-year student, she told Dot Esports.
In her TwitLonger, Mel also details her experience with her production manager. She said that Freaks 4U booked the wrong flight for her and she was asked to adapt to it instead of scheduling the right flight. Because she was up late working on the NA side of VCT, it made it near impossible for her to accommodate them.
When Mel asked what would happen if she couldn’t make the flight, her production manager joked that they were going to commit suicide.
Mel has attempted to retain contact with her production manager to ask about dates because if she doesn’t, she won’t know if she’s booked or not until just a few days before she’s scheduled to work. For one EMEA VCT, she was only asked to do three days out of a 27-day tournament, and she was not told why she was asked to do so little work.
Before Mel posted the TwitLonger, she brought all of these issues to her production manager, who denied ever asking her to move to Berlin or drop out of school. They contend that it was merely a suggestion. They were mad at her for going to upper management about the death jokes and implied that Mel was a diversity hire instead of a talented observer who deserved the job.
Mel said that she will discontinue work with Freaks 4U for the next stage of VCT. She says that she feels taken advantage of and angry about the situation. She also said that she’s never experienced a work environment like this on the NA side.
Mel has long been considered one of the best VALORANT observers around, and Riot especially seems to think so considering it did an entire video featuring her for VCT Game Changers.
Dot Esports reached out to Riot for comment but received no response at time of writing.