The story of SAW, the team carrying the Portuguese flag high

The veteran squad is trying to scale heights that no team from the Iberian Peninsula has been capable of reaching.

Almost two years have passed since dozens of Portuguese fans travelled to Madrid by bus to cheer for Giants, the best Portuguese team at the time, against Movistar Riders, their main rival in the Iberian Peninsula, for a spot in the $250,000 BLAST Pro Series Madrid.

The fans put on a show as they invaded the streets of the Spanish capital dressed up for the derby, wearing Giants jerseys, waiving Portuguese flags and carrying green and red flares. Drawing inspiration from the ultras groups in football, they cheered loudly and bellowed chants all day long, leaving no one indifferent.

Giants beat Movistar Riders after three maps and advanced to the group stage of BLAST Pro Series Madrid, putting up a good fight against ENCE and Cloud9, and defeating NIP to return to Portugal with one victory in the bag and a sense of accomplishment. Neither Giants nor Movistar Riders were playing at the highest level at the time — they were ranked only 99th and 37th in the world —, but the chance to beat a regional rival and set foot on the global stage was not something to trifle with.

SAW have made huge strides since the team's creation

The Iberian scene has historically lagged behind other regions in Counter-Strike, and it has been dealt a few major blows in the last year, with a number of high-profile players moving to VALORANT and some organisations switching their focus to Riot Games' shooter. These days, one of the few success stories coming from the region is that of SAW, a Portuguese team created in January 2020 that has slowly become the best squad that the country has ever produced. They climbed to 21st place in the world rankings earlier in 2021 and a few weeks ago beat Movistar Riders in the grand final of LVP Unity Spring Cup to earn a spot in the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown, in which they’re slated to face Heroic, the recently-crowned ESL Pro League champions, in the first round.

But getting to this level has not been smooth sailing. SAW was launched as a temporary project, and the organisation even considered selling the team over the summer due to a lack of resources.

"The arrival of a sponsor helped the organisation to keep the team," SAW manager Bruno "Marinhas" Marinheiro told HLTV.org. "In January 2021, the whole project took a leap forward with the entry of another three renowned sponsors that guaranteed the sustainability of the organisation. Nowadays, we have to maintain the path that we have been following, of progression and stabilization in the Iberian Peninsula's esports scene."

SAW's roster has been the same since the project came together following a split in the Giants' camp. Christopher "⁠MUTiRiS⁠" Fernandes, Ricardo "⁠rmn⁠" Oliveira, Omar "⁠arki⁠" Chakkor and head coach Ricardo "⁠AIm⁠" Almeida decided to create a new squad together with the ex-OFFSET duo of Renato "⁠stadodo⁠" Gonçalves and Tiago "⁠JUST⁠" Moura. With an average age of 27.6 years, SAW have the oldest roster in the top 30.

"Experience has been fundamental, without a doubt, especially to prevent repeating mistakes of the past," MUTiRiS explained. "We know what it takes for a team to work and we are all on the same page. I think the age factor doesn't get in the way as long as the motivation and the will to win are there."

It’s strange, to say the least, that a team trying to make history for Portuguese Counter-Strike doesn’t include the biggest star the country has ever produced, Ricardo "⁠fox⁠" Pacheco, who notably played for Kinguin, G2, and FaZe between 2015 and 2016. The 34-year-old has enjoyed only modest success since his Giants teammates left to create SAW, and is currently playing for OFFSET after the Spanish organisation decided to keep x6tence as their sole CS:GO team.

For MUTiRiS, who spent several years competing alongside fox, it would be unfair to say that moving on from the former FaZe player was needed, but he is delighted with how things have worked out.

"Honestly, after spending one-and-a-half years with the same core (MUTiRiS, rmn, and fox) and failing to reach the level we were aiming for, it was the decision that we considered the most correct,” the 28-year-old said.

"Looking back now and seeing everything we have achieved with SAW, I think that in a way, the results speak for themselves."

Without fox on their side, the team needed someone else to step up with the AWP, and stadodo has proved himself as a capable sniper at a high level (1.11 rating and 1.14 impact in 2021). However, the 24-year-old dismissed comparisons with fox.

stadodo boasts the highest rating in the Portuguese squad

"I personally don’t see myself as a main AWPer, I’m a hybrid player that can do everything inside the server, stadodo said. "I don’t feel I’m the best Portuguese AWPer, but I feel that I’m the most complete player."

stadodo and JUST shared the frustration of not being able to qualify for relevant international events while competing with OFFSET. Joining SAW has allowed them to realise their potential and finally reach the grandest stages.

"I think it was a 'perfect match',” stadodo said. "I was looking for a team where everybody had a good mentality and could help me to evolve. It was also very good that JUST joined me because he was the best player I had played with and also because we have good chemistry inside the server."

The dedication and discipline shown by stadodo are hard to find in the region, according to MUTiRiS, who believes that some players refuse to get out of their comfort zone and grow complacent when they reach a certain level.

"People need to understand that in order to reach the top, we have to give our lives," MUTiRiS explained. "This means making sacrifices, such as not spending enough time with your family, friends, or girlfriend.

"I don’t see this desire in the scene. This lack of ambition leads to stagnation, and the growth of the scene is very slow compared to other regions."

MUTiRiS thinks most players in the Iberian scene don't want to make sacrifices

The BLAST Premier Spring Showdown represents one of the biggest challenges that SAW have ever faced. Twelve months ago, it was inconceivable that the Portuguese team would be playing tournaments like this almost on a regular basis, and it's no surprise that they already have their eyes on bigger things. Their next goals are to break into the top 20 in the world rankings, something that no Portuguese team has done since 2013, and to go all the way in ESEA Premier after finishing in third place last season.

"Since day one, our mentality has been to evolve every day and results will come," MUTiRiS said. "We want to secure our spot in the top 20 and it would be very good if we manage to win ESEA Premier and earn a spot in ESL Pro League. That would be the icing on the cake for us after everything we have done so far."

Portugal Ricardo 'rmn' Oliveira
Ricardo 'rmn' Oliveira
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
830
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.69
Spain Omar 'arki' Chakkor
Omar 'arki' Chakkor
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
637
KPR:
0.63
DPR:
0.67
Portugal Renato 'stadodo' Gonçalves
Renato 'stadodo' Gonçalves
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
491
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.65
Portugal Tiago 'JUST' Moura
Tiago 'JUST' Moura
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
590
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.65
Portugal Ricardo 'fox' Pacheco
Ricardo 'fox' Pacheco
Age:
34
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
993
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.68
Portugal Christopher 'MUTiRiS' Fernandes
Christopher 'MUTiRiS' Fernandes
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
936
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.69
#1
i am | 
Finland iBait
sAw has indeed been impressive but personally I don't see this project reaching the upper echelons of professional Counter Strike without a roster change. Perhaps adding upcomers like XANTARES and NiKo to the roster could reinvigorate them and help them fullfil their aspirations as professional gamers.
2021-04-15 12:03
9 replies
#16
 | 
Japan Yuukek
Oh my god what a sensitive story, the whole planet cried when they read this
2021-04-15 12:04
2 replies
Same, they should consider buying coldzera and a real IGL like steelega
2021-04-15 17:24
1 reply
#177
 | 
Australia kaos0002
Maybe even pick up unheard talents like KennyS
2021-04-16 10:00
xantares or niko saraly can pay the entire organization
2021-04-15 12:24
3 replies
#164
 | 
Portugal Guiarte
bom inglês
2021-04-15 19:23
2 replies
acho que foi mais boa dislexia
2021-04-16 12:53
1 reply
#185
 | 
South Africa CRMN1
AHAHAH
2021-04-16 21:33
Nice edit, idk why you all crave #1 comment
2021-04-15 13:01
1 reply
#85
 | 
United States Shr3y
No lifers, with no substance in their actual life.
2021-04-15 13:12
Nice
2021-04-15 12:00
BAMOS!
2021-04-15 12:01
unexpected, love u hltv
2021-04-15 12:01
cr7 best portugese
2021-04-15 12:01
nice
2021-04-15 12:01
#8
 | 
Portugal Kenay282
#SAWtouadar Bora SAW
2021-04-15 12:01
#9
 | 
Europe Holiwis
muxo texto
2021-04-15 12:01
2 replies
#93
 | 
Portugal H3NR
In portuguese, it's "muito texto". "Mucho texto" is spanish.
2021-04-15 13:29
1 reply
famoso general alemao, NEIN VOHL LEHR
2021-04-15 15:49
Portugal
2021-04-15 12:02
#sawtouadar
2021-04-15 12:02
god marinhas
2021-04-15 12:03
#17
 | 
Europe XpLoZiV
Ez4SAW
2021-04-15 12:05
#18
 | 
Faroe Islands DJ8
Lets goo
2021-04-15 12:05
#19
 | 
Portugal karky
nice! go saw
2021-04-15 12:07
#20
 | 
Spain PraKaN1
Bora sAw
2021-04-15 12:07
1 reply
#82
 | 
Portugal w1nter23
Let's go Movi <3
2021-04-15 13:06
#23
 | 
Dominican Republic NNNumb
top1 2022
2021-04-15 12:09
bruno_best_portugal
2021-04-15 12:13
#25
 | 
Saudi Arabia Xpicyy
LOL
2021-04-15 12:13
I enyoyed the read, gl to saw!
2021-04-15 12:14
Bora saw
2021-04-15 12:15
riders-saw best rivality, good luck in blast brothers
2021-04-15 12:15
2 replies
ty <3
2021-04-15 14:42
#125
 | 
Portugal karky
+1
2021-04-15 15:04
#sAwtouadar
2021-04-15 12:16
Even we are tier 999999 like some ppl say, atleast we have a team that is trying to carry our flag and spain flag / iberian in csgo scene . Im very proud of my boys
2021-04-15 12:16
1 reply
Your mistake is thinking that morbidly obese Hltv bettors can ever comprehend what true loyalty to a team is. let them bark bro.
2021-04-15 12:21
Stadodo will go the same path as xantares in the turkish scene. Join a bigger team and his scene will be t2 with perhaps some going up there and there
2021-04-15 12:18
1 reply
I mean, I hope that he doesn't do that too late
2021-04-15 16:32
Nassional pride
2021-04-15 12:19
#34
sausol | 
Switzerland x676
Hope they can achieve something this season now that they have good chances, otherwise I am afraid it may be too late since they are averaging 30 y/o as a team
2021-04-15 12:19
1 reply
at this point i just want them and offset to clear the path for younger players we are starting to have some interesting enough players for t2/t3
2021-04-15 21:31
#35
 | 
Portugal pirolito_
Lets go saw.
2021-04-15 12:21
Lets go with work and dedication they will get there
2021-04-15 12:22
LETS GO SAW!!!
2021-04-15 12:22
If he win versus heroic today i want a Blast Lisbon 2022.
2021-04-15 12:27
2 replies
#116
 | 
Portugal Flaust13
+1
2021-04-15 14:42
#165
 | 
Finland mattixboi
blast lisbon would be cool anyway, very good audience
2021-04-15 19:28
#44
 | 
Norway TheDEA
Disband within 3 months
2021-04-15 12:28
3 replies
british cs LUL
2021-04-15 12:57
2 replies
#87
 | 
Norway TheDEA
LUL
2021-04-15 13:12
1 reply
LUL
2021-04-15 16:33
car
2021-04-15 12:28
#46
 | 
Portugal DalienS
nice hltv content <3
2021-04-15 12:28
So proud of these boys, making a name for Portugal internationally, hopefully the best is yet to come!
2021-04-15 12:29
#48
 | 
Germany BIG2020
Can hate all you want, but i respect that a lot when you build out of local scene no matter how much easier it is to go Int.
2021-04-15 12:29
1 reply
Thank you!
2021-04-15 14:35
Ez Portugal!
2021-04-15 12:29
sawtoadar
2021-04-15 12:30
im suprised that writer is not MIRAA (he is from Portugal)
2021-04-15 12:34
2 replies
i thought that too when i started reading xd
2021-04-15 12:34
it wasn't Miraa but it was a brazilian bro, so it makes sense
2021-04-15 13:33
Bunch of wannabes living the online era
2021-04-15 12:34
5 replies
btw have u ever seen blast madrid, the play in and the main event? these players played their whole life in lans, why do u think they want to play online? do u have some problem or do u have some problem?
2021-04-15 12:36
4 replies
I can confirm he has some problem.
2021-04-15 13:38
He is the problem
2021-04-15 13:55
Congratulations they did good in 1 or 2 lans... their whole llan ife is pretty much the iberian region cause most times they cant qualify for anything relevant, amazing resume indeed. Lets talk again when the lans restart and they go back to tier 4 or 5 and their amazing high skilled iberian lans.
2021-04-15 17:42
1 reply
#158
 | 
Portugal DingoPT
SAW on LAN > SAW in Online. Try to play with our ping against german, polish, romanian teams and then talk about us. That's why with a almost same roster we literally dominated NiP and almost won against C9 an ENCE on LAN. And Vitality were destroyed 1 year ago with this roster. When LANs start to appear, let's see what happens.
2021-04-15 18:19
Really cool article Mr. Hltv, would like more of the kind :)
2021-04-15 12:37
#58
 | 
Portugal Zeveryn
very cool
2021-04-15 12:40
2021-04-15 12:43
3 replies
SAW > sAw > Saw(tool) > SAWO > Saw > Saw (movies)
2021-04-15 13:28
2 replies
XD
2021-04-15 14:13
#179
nope | 
Finland zntei
looool
2021-04-16 11:07
#60
 | 
Portugal w1nter23
Thank Mr. HLTV for the sharing the story. The team is slowly growing being the most consistent team since old the old Kick roster. We're getting there for sure. Patience will get us there. #sAwtouadar
2021-04-15 12:45
#61
 | 
Portugal Aderitus
Thank you for the highlight @HLTV. I wish LAN events were back so we can show the true force of Portuguese support but alas we must wait another year perhaps.
2021-04-15 12:46
Cool story What does the hashtag (#sawtouadar) mean?
2021-04-15 12:48
5 replies
#64
 | 
Portugal Davdio
#sawtouadar means like "we are only giving" and was the original name of the team, when they weren't a org.
2021-04-15 12:50
"I'm giving"
2021-04-15 12:51
saw sounds similar to só(only in port) tou a dar in CS terms basically means "i am only stomping" so #sawtouadar basically means #Iamonlystomping
2021-04-15 12:59
#83
 | 
Portugal w1nter23
It's an expression we use in-game in portuguese which means something like Only Stomping/Killing when we're having one of THOSE games. Translating it would mean Only giving.
2021-04-15 13:11
1 reply
Thank you all portuguese mens)
2021-04-15 13:27
Let's go boys
2021-04-15 12:51
ORGULHO TUGA <3
2021-04-15 12:52
#70
 | 
Portugal lnxfps
#sawtouadar
2021-04-15 12:54
#71
 | 
Korea Siyeon
Força SAW! Hoje é o vosso dia
2021-04-15 12:54
#79
arT | 
United Kingdom h4m
Good to see different countries represented at these tournaments
2021-04-15 13:03
proud of the boys
2021-04-15 13:04
#81
 | 
Portugal TopFarmer
EZ 4 PORTUGAL <3
2021-04-15 13:04
#84
 | 
Korea jin67300
NO hope with arki
2021-04-15 13:11
Orgulho Tuga <3
2021-04-15 13:12
Nice article, deserved for SAW, they're doing a great work and the expectations are high! GL!
2021-04-15 13:24
#91
Jame | 
Portugal gazav
Well done! Wasn't from the portuguese Mira, but was from a brazilian content creator, what is great to know too :) This isn't great for the portuguese scene, but for the Iberia scene, never forget that, hermanos!
2021-04-15 13:31
#95
 | 
Portugal H3NR
ORGULHO NASSIONAL, CRL Good article. Finally getting some recognition on the main page <3
2021-04-15 13:34
#96
 | 
Portugal SgwSgwER
SAW !! <3
2021-04-15 13:34
rmn & MuTiRiS were always super good idk why they always had an hard time finding a proper working team.
2021-04-15 13:36
GL brothers <3
2021-04-15 13:44
Let's go saw
2021-04-15 13:46
#101
 | 
Portugal Diogo0814
Saw <3
2021-04-15 13:50
Proud <33
2021-04-15 13:54
#103
TBD | 
Hong Kong DG84
They already lost to heroic 32-0 xDD
2021-04-15 13:54
#106
arT | 
Brazil uezu
Very nice tuguinhas Cheers from brazil
2021-04-15 13:56
lets go son of Brasil
2021-04-15 14:03
1 reply
#126
 | 
Portugal karky
father of Brasil*
2021-04-15 15:07
tier 3 without future
2021-04-15 14:03
19 replies
nt poorland
2021-04-15 14:30
18 replies
NT tier 5 never relevant country
2021-04-15 14:34
17 replies
lmaooooo nt toilet cleaner
2021-04-15 14:35
#121
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
Your scene is dying lmao
2021-04-15 14:51
15 replies
Your scene never existed and nothing changes lmao
2021-04-15 14:52
14 replies
#123
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
SAW= all clean toillet teams :)
2021-04-15 14:53
13 replies
nt 4-16 map pick Disband
2021-04-15 16:12
12 replies
#157
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
Didn't see any poorlak team there lmao
2021-04-15 17:58
11 replies
Nice excuse
2021-04-15 18:20
10 replies
#160
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
Excuse? Saw gonna be at ESL Pro League next season.
2021-04-15 18:48
9 replies
WDYM? sAw will lose to winstrike, go lower and then lose vs AGO nt
2021-04-15 19:33
8 replies
#170
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
Huh? Nt
2021-04-15 22:09
2 replies
not a single map won in bo5 nice tier 3 saw
2021-04-18 22:04
1 reply
#208
 | 
Portugal WillyanI7
HAHAH so funny, do you remember what you said? ahahha logic
2021-04-19 21:05
rip
2021-04-17 02:29
4 replies
rip what, doesnt matter AGO vs winstrike and then AGO vs sAw, still same scenario
2021-04-17 16:17
3 replies
#199
 | 
Portugal sevn_2
hello? where is Ago? nt poorland
2021-04-17 22:33
2 replies
Enjoy losing 1-0 adventage noobs XD
2021-04-18 20:45
0 maps won in bo5, good job sAw
2021-04-18 22:03
#110
 | 
Portugal lE09iNE
GO PORTUGAL ! GO SAW !
2021-04-15 14:29
#118
 | 
United Kingdom pzzzz
Let's go SAW! I'm very proud of my boyz and hopefully we can have a nice surprise today and win against Heroic :)
2021-04-15 14:44
#119
 | 
Portugal Tiago4
BAMOOOOOOOOOOOS PORTUGAL CRLH
2021-04-15 14:44
lolll
2021-04-15 14:51
well "high" is relational i guess.
2021-04-15 14:54
3 replies
relative*
2021-04-15 15:31
1 reply
+1 funny thing, i actually had relative and i edited it to relational. was wondering this for a while but google translate gave "relational" to my phrase in finnish so i went with that. sorry, not native.
2021-04-15 16:22
#188
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
for a very stagnated scene saw is for sure reaching high places. No other team have reached higher so it is high for our scene and we couldn't be prouder of our boys
2021-04-17 07:20
Keep on grinding and I am sure this team will succeed!
2021-04-15 15:08
#128
 | 
Portugal ywdiogo
Nice article hltv :)
2021-04-15 15:11
lets go sAw!!!!
2021-04-15 15:15
Flag high? More like half way.
2021-04-15 16:03
2 replies
#189
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
higher than ever No one from a nation who have a developed scene can understand what this team means to iberian scene. it is historic for our region to be 1 game away from esl pro league
2021-04-17 07:23
1 reply
It is not historic. You just weren't around when fox and the k1ck boys did that, also old x6tence.
2021-04-17 11:43
World ranking #37 lmao. You portus see them as top 15 lmao
2021-04-15 16:04
3 replies
37 is still too high tbh
2021-04-15 16:12
2 replies
I think it's actually fitting, they can upset T2
2021-04-15 16:21
1 reply
If you consider Ence, Vitality, Faze and VP tier 2, then i agree
2021-04-16 14:12
#142
 | 
Panama Bill_Bait
16-4
2021-04-15 16:15
#145
 | 
Portugal TimiKS
it's sad they couldn't go to LAN tournments
2021-04-15 16:29
Destroying Portuguese sweaty 5 stacks on faceit is my hobby
2021-04-15 16:37
EZ4SAWEZ4SAW-------EZ4SAWEZ4SAWEZ4SAW EZ4SAWEZ4SAW-------EZ4SAWEZ4SAWEZ4SAW EZ4SAW-----------------------------EZ4SAW EZ4SAWEZ4SAW-------------------EZ4SAW EZ4SAWEZ4SAW--------------------------EZ4SAW EZ4SAW-------------------------------------------EZ4SAW EZ4SAWEZ4SAW--------EZ4SAWEZ4SAWEZ4SAW EZ4SAWEZ4SAW—-----EZ4SAWEZ4SAWEZ4SAW
2021-04-15 17:27
2 replies
heroic said ez as well
2021-04-15 17:35
#186
 | 
Macedonia HyPeRExE
okey
2021-04-16 21:41
EZ4HEROIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2021-04-15 17:35
I'm a huge fan of saw and i'm very proud to climb portuguese language over the rank.
2021-04-15 17:45
GG WP
2021-04-15 17:52
#162
 | 
Portugal ywdiogo
Vamos saw, este tem de ser nosso!!
2021-04-15 19:06
#163
 | 
Panama Bill_Bait
Ahhahahahaha
2021-04-15 19:19
I wouldn't say they're carrying the flag high when they're below t3
2021-04-15 21:01
5 replies
#171
 | 
Sri Lanka Batata_XD
winning against ex-winstrike and fighting for a slot at esl Pro league its t3 ok dude
2021-04-15 23:02
4 replies
ex-winstrike kek
2021-04-16 10:30
3 replies
#190
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
?? how retarded you can be? no scene boy?
2021-04-17 07:24
2 replies
Still wouldnt call your trash team scene either
2021-04-17 09:19
1 reply
#203
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
still, they are aiming to esl pro league. where are your teams from lithuania?
2021-04-18 20:31
#168
 | 
North America joeS
carrying the t5 flag pretty high
2021-04-15 21:20
1 reply
#175
 | 
Portugal ywdiogo
Don't hate, chill bro
2021-04-16 01:23
you mean low
2021-04-15 23:26
3 replies
#191
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
where are the argentina boys? it went error 404 when i searched for top 30
2021-04-17 07:25
2 replies
I prefer to beat a tier 1 team as an underdog instead of being stuck in tier 3 for a year LUL
2021-04-17 19:23
1 reply
#202
 | 
Portugal MufT4r
saw also beat vitality already LOL just stfu because you only going to get yourself burned
2021-04-18 20:30
I'm really proud of these boys, lets keep working and reach our objective! You will never walk alone! #sawtouadar
2021-04-16 03:21
aff ta em inglês
2021-04-16 13:45
1 reply
2021-04-16 17:04
#184
 | 
Portugal karlitus
we love them
2021-04-16 19:57
#192
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Portugal MufT4r
thank you for the article. It is a blessing to see hltv giving saw recognition for what they have done for the iberian scene
2021-04-17 07:27
#WeAreSAW
2021-04-17 08:31
The best team of my country! Proud <3
2021-04-17 20:42
congrats on this nice article , lets go SAW!!
2021-04-22 12:24
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