Astralis has been accepted as a franchise partner for the European League Championship Series, in an application headlined by popular Danish color commentator Martin "Deficio" Lynge, league sources told ESPN.
Lynge will now be faced with the choice of leaving his post as a commentator for the league, with the option of assuming a role with Astralis as one of its top officials for its new League of Legends team. Lynge declined to comment.
In February, Lynge announced that he had left his full-time position at Riot Games and would remain with its European on-air team on a freelance basis. That decision came as a result of his desire to work as a consultant throughout the 2018 season.
Lynge took a two-week absence shortly before the July 1 franchise application deadline as he worked with Astralis to finalize its paperwork for submission to Riot Games.
Now that it is accepted, Astralis will have to pay Riot Games 10.5 million euros ($12.07 million) over a multiyear period for the franchise slot. Astralis is one of five new teams that will join existing organizations G2 Esports, Fnatic, Misfits, Schalke 04 Esports and Team Vitality in the league.
Founded in January 2016 by a set of successful Danish Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players, their manager and an executive staff from veteran organizations -- the likes of Copenhagen Wolves and others -- Astralis has become one of the most successful teams in Counter-Strike history. In September, the organization won its second Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major in two years.
Lynge, a former professional League of Legends player-turned-commentator, previously competed for the Copenhagen Wolves under CEO Jakob Lund Kristensen. Lund Kristensen now serves as Astralis parent company RFRSH Entertainment's executive vice president of sales.
In June 2015, Lynge was suspended from his casting duties for four weeks as a result of allegedly tampering with contracted players after he was offered a managerial position at Copenhagen Wolves. He has reportedly maintained a cordial relationship with Lund Kristensen and has built a rapport with other executives at RFRSH, according to sources.
The European League Championship Series began moving to a franchise model earlier in the year after its North American sister league executed that transition last fall. The North American league welcomed new ownership like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, owners of the Texas Rangers and venture capital firms affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The franchised EU LCS will launch in January 2019 and will be tasked with achieving profitability for both the league and its participating teams. The league will garnish a league revenue pool, which combines the likes of league and team sponsorship, broadcasting rights and other revenue streams. Those revenues will be divided among the league, teams and their players.