eSports set to go 'mainstream, Unigames League of Legends Championship finalist Mizeria says

2013 League of Legends World Championship Photo: Riot Games

Monash University has produced many of Australia's great sporting identities including America's Cup captain John Bertrand and Hawthorn's highly successful AFL coach Alastair Clarkson. Now it can also lay claim to having the nation's best eSports team.

Esports debuted in the Australian University Games this year, and TeamMonash prevailed 3-1 over Queensland University of Technology in the best-of-five Unigames League of Legends Championship final in September. But the University Games tournament is just another example of how eSports is growing rapidly in popularity, with one industry expert predicting it will soon become one of the top three sports in the world.

By the end of 2016, eSports is predicted to enjoy a 43 percent growth rate that will make it a $AUS611 million business; and that figure is expected to skyrocket further to $AUS1.45 billion by 2019. Australasia is now catching on to the craze that has swept through Europe, Asia and the U.S., and the number of competitions staged across Australia each year is growing rapidly.

Lachlan Spencer -- 'Mizeria' in the gaming world -- has witnessed the growth of eSports in Australia from a front-row seat, and he made a bold prediction to ESPN about its future.

"I honestly see eSports one day becoming just as mainstream as your regular sports," Spencer told ESPN.

"I think we'll see it on the same media channels as other sport and see it on TV.

"Maybe the coverage won't be as comprehensive, but I believe the games will be shown in some way to the general public outside your internet streams."

Spencer captained Queensland University of Technology at the increasingly popular Uni Games in Perth, where the eSports championship consisted of five-person teams competing against each other on League of Legends, the most popular eSports game.

QUT were favoured to win the final, but victorious Monash University captain Will "Divinity" Huang said the result was an upset based on experience but not in their own minds.

"Individually, we thought we had the better team," Huang told ESPN.

"We put a lot of practice in, and I was also pushing the players to improve individually.

"It might be kind of arrogant but maybe we are just better players as well."

The best-of-five decider in Perth was watched by thousands of fans, either at the event or online, and the pressure to perform, as in any sport, was immense.

Competition and viewer interest around the globe is extremely fierce, and the best gamers have the potential to earn a highly attractive seven-figure salary.

American Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora is the world No. 1 with overall earnings of almost $AUS3.5 million, while the top 34 in the standings have each taken home more than $AUS1 million.

Australia's highest earner -- Damien "kphoenii" Chok -- is listed at 103 in the rankings but even he has raked in almost $AUS500,000.

"If we wind back time about five, six or seven years the game didn't even exist," Huang said.

"I think they posted a statistic [in August] that there are about 100 million confirmed players so I think that number in itself speaks volumes about how fast it's growing."

The rapid growth of eSports has already seen 14 of the world's leading sports teams -- including the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, and soccer powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City -- and high-profile identities such as Shaquille O'Neal and Alex Rodriguez invest heavily.

PSG just this week announced their first signings -- presenting Bora "YellowStar" Kim, August "Agge" Rosenmeier and Lucas "DaXe" Cuillerier to journalists and a sizeable Twitch audience at Parc des Princes.

Kim, 24, is France's five-time European League of Legends (LoL) champion, while Rosenmeier, 20, is Denmark's current FIFA 17 world champion and Cuillerier, 16, is a rising French star.

PSG will be entering their eSports team in League of Legends as well as the popular FIFA franchise, for now.

While eSports investors such as PSG may be in it for the long haul, competitors not so; the gamers' career window usually ranges from 18 to 25-years-old before their reaction speeds slow and it's GAME OVER!