When the players from Astralis' contracts with Team SoloMid were set to expire, most Counter-Strike fans assumed they would renew their relationship with TSM or join a similar, established esports organisation.
Instead, they went their own way and built a new organisation from scratch, raising money from investors and bringing on experienced people like Copenhagen Wolves founder Jakob Lund Kristensen to handle the business side of things, while maintaining an ownership stake themselves.
It's a new direction for a top team to go, so when we met up with team captain Finn "Karrigan" Andersen at Copenhagen Games this weekend, we naturally had to ask about it.
"In my experience, [throughout my career], the organisations never lived up to the expectations you had. They said, 'we can give you this, we can give you that, and this will happen in the future'. And in the beginning it's always good, but then suddenly the relationship just crumbles," he says.
"So when we were in talks with TSM to re-sign, we thought hey, if we did it all ourselves, what would it take? Who do we need to handle the responsibilities of everything? Who do we trust? Because in the end business is all about trusting another person."
The TSM organisation let the squad's manager, Frederik Byskov, go upon hearing that they wouldn't re-sign with the organization. That turned out to be a blessing. "So we made him our agent. We were under contract and couldn't talk to organisations, but he could talk freely on our behalf."
Though all five Astralis players have an ownership stake in the organization, they let others handle the business and just focus on playing. "We don't do business-related things. We have Frederik and Jakob doing all the things behind the scenes. So we're just here to build the brand for Astralis."
The MLG Columbus Major kicks off later today, with Astralis playing their first game around 20:50 GMT / 21:50 CET. We asked Karrigan about their expectations for the tournament.
"Our expectations are of course the semifinals," Karrigan says. "We need to go to the semifinals. The last two or three [Majors] we went out in the quarter finals, and every time we were disappointed."
"I think it comes down to, a semifinal is what we need to reach. Finals would be perfect, and winning the tournament would be the ultimate best thing that could happen. But I won't say we're aiming for the finals. We're going for the semifinals, and then it's a matter of who you're playing."
"Going to the final would be the biggest [result] that we've ever made, 'cause we've never been in the finals of a Major."
The MLG Columbus Major begins today at 15:00 GMT / 16:00 CET.