We chat with David “Simo” Rabinovitch, an amateur esports commentator who's recently been gaining some traction in Valorant.
With its explosion in popularity during its recent closed beta release, VALORANT has been elevating many careers to new heights. It's also been creating careers and giving the spotlight to otherwise unknown personalities; Among these rising stars is David “Simo” Rabinovitch. An amateur esports commentator.
Rabinovitch has been involved in esports for a very long time. He knew he was passionate about them after getting into League of Legends, spending many hours grinding the ranked ladder. After checking out the promoted LCS event on the client and got hooked on the entertainment aspect of commentary. At the time, he worked as a journalist and attended an LCS event for coverage, falling even more in love with the art of commentary.
Since no esports specific education existed back then, he pursued an education in Sports Broadcasting at Ryerson University. He bounced between jobs, working at Redbull and theScore Esports, not really sure where he’d end up.
From there, he landed a one in a million position working at St. Clair College as one of the world’s first esports instructors, teaching esports media, broadcasting and marketing courses. He also continued to pursue his dream of working as a professional esports caster, streaming and compiling YouTube clips and demo reels to build his portfolio. Most recently, Rabinovitch landed a tremendous opportunity commentating ESPN’s VALORANT Invitational tournament, broadcasting his voice to tens of thousands of live viewers.
ESTNN sat down for a chat with Rabinovitch about his recent success and what the future holds for him.
The start of “Simo”
Early on in your career, you developed a network of League of Legends community figures such as Redmercy, Scarra, Ackinola. Have any of these figures assisted you in your growth and has anyone else taken notice?
Simo: There has been some notice from esports figureheads. One large one obviously being Tyler Erzberger of ESPN giving me a shot by commentating their tournament. It was a major break from me being able to commentate over some of the best athletes and personalities alike in esports, especially during VALORANT’s infant stages. Other people like Akinola Verissimo and Alex “Vansilli” Nguyen have assisted me with live chats and one on one sessions, discussing different ways of improvement.
From one Riot Game to another
With a ton of experience under your belt commentating League of Legends; including a stint with 100Thieves, how have your skills translated into your recent switch to VALORANT?
Simo: Surprisingly it has been a bit of a difficult transition. League of Legends is more structured with defined roles and strategies. The game is pretty predictable where as a caster you know when the action is coming. Where VALORANT has been different is that effectively, teams only have one or two chances to fake an execute before committing to a push. All the while, anything can happen at any moment whether it be a spraydown or a quick series of kills.
ESPN and the future
Could you describe the chain of interactions that led to ESPN’s Tyler Erzberger (@FionnOnFire on Twitter) recruiting you as talent for the VALORANT tournament that they held?
Simo: So throughout the launch of VALORANT, Riot Games released these little teaser videos about their agents. Since there wasn’t any real gameplay out there, I decided to just commentate over those clips and post them on relevant twitter threads. They started getting more and more traction as I went on and eventually, people in the community started to take notice. Among those was Tyler who reached out to me via DM and I found out that he had been following those clips for a while. Eventually a conversation led up to me being asked to commentate the ESPN VALORANT tournament and the rest is history.
How has casting the ESPN tournament impacted your esports career? Are you confident now that you can pursue esports commentary?
Simo: After casting the tournament I do feel a bit more reassured in pursuing my passions. I’ve had a jump in followers on Twitter, just over a thousand. I think the biggest takeaway I’ve come out with with the entire experience is how to better create content. I’ve developed my skills and learned how to create non-invasive and unique content. Though the ESPN tournament was a huge break for me, I feel like I’m still getting started. It was definitely a great launch pad for me and I loved working with them. From here on, I’m going to keep grinding and use that experience to better myself for the next opportunity that comes my way.
Passion to profession
In your professional opinion, what does it take for one to take their passion or hobby with commentating esports games and turn it into a career?
Simo: Commentating was something I was passionate about since I got my start in esports. I knew that if I wanted to make it, I’d have to cast every day to really hone my craft. Part of taking it from a hobby and turning it into a career came from how much work I put in. I’ve casted League of Legends for years and started commentating on Tik Tok, eventually building a following of 20k people. There’s a Gary Vee quote that I love where he talks about living your passion. If you can’t bear to do it every day, then that isn’t something you’re actually passionate about.
When asked about advice to give to other amateurs looking to turn their dreams into a reality, he had this to say;
“Do what you love every single day or as often as possible. If you’re looking to become a caster, rewatch your VODs. Critique yourself and seek out critiques. Keep casting, review, get better and keep grinding.”
There's no doubt about it Rabinovitch is a rising star; and the culmination of his works has led to a tremendous resume booster in ESPN’s VALORANT tournament.