If you've been watching the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) from the beginning, you know Turtle, the former pro and established RLCS commentator. The 21-year-old better known by his real name, Isaac App, fit right into the broadcast team when he parked his Octane in the garage for good and picked up the headset in the booth back in 2018. His wealth of knowledge as a former pro paired with his signature sprightly delivery gives him a unique talent set, and his skills on the mic seem to come naturally. But, between shifting to homeschooling to focus on Rocket League and retiring early to become a commentator all while cultivating a budding music career, Isaac's journey has been anything but natural.
Isaac gravitated toward video games at a young age. His grandmother bought him his very first console, the GameBoy Advance SP, which sparked his first passion. The Phoenix native eventually graduated from the handheld and got into PC games with some help from YouTube. Isaac says YouTube was like his cable TV growing up. Through YouTube, he discovered different creators and games, including his first competitive game, Team Fortress 2 (TF2). At 11 years old, Isaac was competing at an amateur level with teammates twice his age.
"I don't even remember how I got mixed up with them, but that was my first introduction to esports," Isaac recalls. "I signed up and we went into smaller public tournaments. We were OK. I took it really seriously at that age, but we lost most of the time to be honest [laughs]."
He played TF2 consistently for three years through middle school and the beginning of high school. Following his time with TF2 Isaac started playing other games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive but was never at a competitive level of TF2. Isaac was still trying out different activities and hobbies while trying to find his passion. One of those passions was soccer. That was until an injury made sports impossible.
"I grew up playing soccer, so I was really invested in it growing up," explained Isaac. "During freshman year I tried out for the team, which was my main focus at the time, but I ended up having a growth plate issue in my heel and I could barely walk. I couldn't play any sports for about a year or two. That's around the time I discovered Rocket League, so It was actually pretty convenient. I was craving soccer, and Rocket League was my alternative. It was digital soccer basically."
Isaac was on the Rocket League grind in a hurry, playing and practicing for hours in between going to school and completing his school work at home. He never thought competing would be a potential career for him until fate randomly matched him against a Rocket League legend, SadJunior.
SadJunior was one of the first top-tier pros in the esport. He played for teams like Cosmic Aftershock and iBUYPOWER playing alongside fellow veterans Jacob and Fireburner back in 2015, and would go on to join giants like NRG, Kings of Urban, and several others. At the time, Isaac didn't know who SadJunior was, but everyone else who queued into that match was well aware.
[Isaac with his fiance Alejandra]
"I remember it so clearly because it was such a big moment in my Rocket League career," he said. "I didn't know who on earth SadJunior was, but my teammates at the time were freaking out [laughs]. We lost a close match, but I googled him after that and found his Twitch channel. I saw he was streaming and was just amazed. It was crazy to see that many people watching someone who was apparently one of the best, and I just played him in Ranked and almost beat him! We put up a fight, so that meant we were somewhat decent. I friended my random teammates during that game and we started playing competitively because we did well against SadJunior. That's what lit the flame."
For the next year, Isaac stayed on his grind with those same teammates he met during that match and strived to improve his game. He improved enough to perform well at ESL tournaments and even qualified for RLCS alongside Garrett "GarrettG" Gordon and Jaysent "Jayyyrah" Urra. With proven success and income coming in thanks to his skills on the pitch, Isaac was at a crossroads. He knew he wouldn't be able to compete at a high level while juggling high school at the same time, and made the decision to switch to a homeschool education.
"It was really just me by myself, reading and studying homeschooling books. I had even more time to do whatever I wanted to do. I was getting decent income from Rocket League, and just thought practicing and improving was a better use of my time compared to school work. I was also pretty anti-social and didn't have any friends. I just didn't see the point of going to high school if I wasn't going to interact with anyone."
Over the next two years, Isaac bounced around the RLCS competitive system, playing for a handful of different teams, while reaching various levels of success. He was still putting in the work, but his efforts started getting pulled toward a new passion that was blooming: music making. Today, Isaac produces and writes his own hip hop music. His love for music started to grow while being stuck at home practicing and improving at Rocket League.
"I always loved listening to music, but I was missing human contact while spending so much time alone," he recalled. "That's when I started listening to more music and got introduced to rap and hip hop. I stumbled upon J. Cole and Logic, which exposed me to a lot of old school hip hop. That made me feel less alone and I wanted to start creating it myself. That was the early inspiration."
He learned how to make beats in exactly the same way he discovered Team Fortress 2 back when he was 11 years old—YouTube. He started looking up tutorials, gathering software, and began making beats regularly. With Rocket League as his job, hip hop filled in as his new hobby. Over time, that hobby started to play a larger role. He began to lose the fire that he once had for competing in Rocket League. Isaac was 18 and decided to put his profession aside.
"I didn't have the drive for competing and knew I couldn't hang with the new kids who were coming up," Isaac explains. "I knew for a fact that even if I kept putting in the hours, I wouldn't be able to keep up with the players that I was seeing like my teammate Chicago, or someone like Scrubkilla. It honestly felt like I just didn't have a gene that they had. They were young and hungry. They were just on another level."
With Rocket League on the back burner for what he thought would be forever, Isaac was in his first semester at college and starting on the path to pursue a career in music. That's when an unlikely opportunity from Rocket League Esports hit his inbox, but this time it wasn't asking him to compete. It was for commentating.
[Isaac's dogs Appa (right) and Zuko (left)]
"I got this random email from the RLCS crew asking me to come on the broadcast just for this one weekend, and I was completely down for it," Isaac says. "That changed everything. At first I thought I was just going to be on the desk. I had seen other pro players who retired go on the desk and that seemed easy. As a pro player, you have the background of the game, so it translates well on the desk. But, they asked me to cast, and I had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous. I knew it was going to be one of the most difficult things I had ever done."
Despite not having any background in commentating, besides providing voiceover for some of his early YouTube videos, the self-proclaimed introvert accepted the challenge. Even though he thought he was done with Rocket League, the gig was a financial opportunity that he couldn't pass up. Isaac says he was a broke freshman in college who had just bought a car that he couldn't afford and spent the rest of his money on books for his classes. The decision was basically made for him, and he had less than a week to learn how to commentate.
He buried himself in VODs of Rocket League Esports, studying some of his favorite casters at the time like FindableCarpet and Shogun. He started listening to these broadcasts everywhere he went. From working out to doing coursework, the high-energy shoutcasting of competitive Rocket League became the soundtrack of his life. Then the weekend arrived and Isaac had to perform in his first casting opportunity with JamesBot.
"It was terrifying, Isaac exclaimed. "I was so afraid of silence during that first weekend. Silence is where anxiety can creep in. I thought that it was my responsibility to fill the silence for every second of the game. Then, when silence came up I didn't know how to handle it. It felt like I was doing lab research and had to break down this chemical and give a detailed answer for every tiny detail of what I was seeing. Meanwhile, it wasn't that serious. I eventually learned I could have fun with it."
Throughout that first day, Isaac found his rhythm along with some sagelike guidance from other casters and the Rocket League Esports staff.
"All that anxiety that I had just turned into excitement," Isaac says. "It felt like I was watching a game of Rocket League, a game I already love, and I'm watching with a friend. It was my job to explain it and get excited about cool plays. That was like the perfect combination for me. In the same way that the first Ranked game with SadJunior lit a fire under me, the first day of casting did that exact same thing. I just fell in love with commenting and sharing that Rocket League experience with the viewers."
What was supposed to be a one-time gig transformed into a career. Isaac recalls telling Murty "Scheist" Shah of Rocket League Esports that he absolutely loved commentating and wanted to do it more often. He got a call later the next week to bring him back for more events, and went on to establish himself as a mainstay on the RLCS broadcast.
With the foundation of a profession intact, Isaac had more time to devote to his love of music. He left college shortly after he received more Rocket League commentary work, and currently lives in Phoenix with his two dogs and fiance Alejandra. He tries to make five beats a day during the week while preparing for his RLCS casting duties on the weekends. Even though Rocket League was his first love and pays the bills, Isaac's endgame is still music. He says he can't see himself ever stopping music.
"I've had months at a time where I haven't made music, and it's been some of the worst months in my entire life. At this point, making music is a necessity for me to feel happy. Like I said, I'm not a social person, so music fills that void in my life. If I were to not make music anymore, it would be like I'd be losing a chunk of me."
Isaac shot his first music video for his song "DREAMS" in November of last year, and has a growing library of songs on Spotify. His songs "Fixation" and "Funds" are both approaching one million streams. His next goal is to take himself out of his comfort zone and perform live, but the main goal is to make music for a huge audience.
"I have really big ambitions with my music. I want to be a successful artist. I want to be huge and have a platform to speak my mind and express my feelings to help others get through whatever they’re going through, just like me when I discovered hip hop."
This past weekend, Isaac teamed up with Rocket League Esports to announce the RLCS Winter Major. The video features his new song "Fall." Tune in to check out his commentary during RLCS broadcasts all season long on Twitch and YouTube, and be sure to check out his music on Spotify.