Before Landon “LandO” Sanders graduated from high school in Illinois in 2014, he had to get on camera to give a report to his school of around 70 people. He absolutely hated it, but little did he know it would foreshadow his future career as a Call of Duty League caster.
“People said it went well,” LandO said with a little doubt in his voice. “For me, I felt that I constantly had to read off cue cards. It was super basic, there were no expectations whatsoever. I didn’t just didn’t like the way I sounded, the way I looked, the way I portrayed myself. I just was uncomfortable.”
LandO now finds himself as one of the regular faces of Activision Blizzard’s franchised esports league alongside his co-caster and former player Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio. He had originally intended on going to college on a basketball scholarship, but something about it hadn’t felt right, so he took his life in a different direction.
He had a growing interest in esports, specifically Call of Duty.
“I don’t know what it was and I thought it was probably the dumbest decision I could make, but I decided to dive in esports,” he said. “Call of Duty esports.”
In and out like a THIEF 💨
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) March 4, 2022
LandO on improving his Call of Duty voice
LandO’s been working to find his identity as Call of Duty caster since his first event at UMG Dallas in 2015, moving from working with that organization to working with Envy and then, eventually, to the Call of Duty League. He grew comfortable on camera while gaining influence in the Call of Duty community. Fans have criticized him constantly as they often do with casters, but those complaints have been getting quieter and quieter in the lead up to the 2022 season.
Fans have gone as far to compare him to former Call of Duty player and caster and current massively popular YouTube streamer Jack “CouRage” Dunlop. LandO tries not to pay much attention to the criticism or the praise, because he knows he’ll “hear something different each time.”
“I listen at times to peers, if it comes to specific things I talk to fellow commentators. We do VOD review, we’re always critiquing each other,” LandO said. “99% of it is going to come from peers, production and friends in the industry.
I’m all about feedback and the best feedback comes from people who know what they are doing.”
Finding inspiration through the NBA and NFL
Casting, for anyone, is hardly an original art form. There are only so many ways you can relay information during a heated round 11 in Search and Destroy. LandO doesn’t steal the way other casters use their voices, but he will try and implement something they do if he thinks it’ll be a good fit.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s stealing…but, ok, it is absolutely stealing,” LandO said with a laugh. “There is a certain level of stealing if you’re the exact way someone does and says something. That’s not ok. Implementing other things broadcasters do on broadcast is totally fair game, though.”
Those things could include eye contact, a way to transition to analysts or addressing the unexpected.
“But the broadcasters who, you could argue, stealing from today in sports did the exact same thing to the people that came before them,” he said. “It’s a matter of respect when it comes down to it.”
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) March 3, 2022
LandO is an avid fan of the NBA and NFL and often found himself staying glued to game broadcasts because of commentators while growing up. He takes a lot of cues from big names like Dan Patrick and Mike Breen in forming his own style.
“I find myself always looking towards sports to work on things and improve things,” LandO said. “While it’s not always a natural transition between them. Commentating Call of Duty and basketball are two totally different things, but there are a lot of things you can take from them.”
He recently finished up getting his bachelor’s degree at Full Sail University where he studied under Patrick. The combination of his love for the NBA and learning from Patrick lead him to shape his own style based off the voices he listened to growing up.
“I try to take what I like the best – the way this person speaks, the way that this person hypes up a moment, the way they make you feel,” he said. “The way Martin Tyler makes you feel unlike any other. The stability of Jim Nantz’s voice.”
LandO is seeing those inspirations come to life in his voice and he casts over Kenyen “Capsidal” Sutton pop offs and Chris “Simp” Lehr clutches. You can catch him casting at the Call of Duty League Major I that runs through Sunday, March 6. He hopes that his voice can be the thing that brings the whole broadcast together.