Blizzard has announced the StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013. A total of US$1.6 million is up for grabs, and eSports fans will be able to watch every match online for free at 720p.

The World Championship Series debuted last year, and culminated in a grand final tournament held in Shanghai, China. It was taken out by Korea’s Won ‘PartinG’ Lee Sak.

This year, Blizzard is working with three partners in Korea, North America, and Europe to avoid numerous tournament scheduling conflicts, and to introduce a new ranking system that it hopes will aid fans in understanding the relative qualities and positions of professional players.

In Korea, Blizzard is partnering with the Korea eSports Association (KeSPA), Ongamenet (OGN) and GomTV. In North America, Major League Gaming has come onboard as primary partner, and in Europe, Blizzard is working with Turtle Entertainment’s ESL.

Speaking with GameSpot, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said, “I think we just look at the whole ecosystem and recognize that it could be a whole lot easier to understand.”

“There are scheduling conflicts that make players have to make difficult decisions where sometimes you don't get people playing in the tournaments they think they should be playing in. It's very hard to follow, to really know what the relative importance of winning various things are. I think it really falls to us, to Blizzard, we're really the only company in position to work with everybody, to help create a single storyline in the ecosystem.”

In the World Championship Series, players in each league will compete in three regional seasons before meeting in three global season finals, and earning points within the WCS’s global ranking system. The year will culminate in a grand final that will be held at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California, in November.

Blizzard has not yet released any information regarding Australian and New Zealand seeding. However, the WCS FAQ reads, “Players are free to join any regional league they wish by declaring their region of choice at the beginning of the year.”

More than US$1.5 million up for grabs in StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013